Peel Ports has published a Seaplane Operations Code of Practice for the Medway and Swale rivers in Kent.
Aircraft that wish to land in either area have to notify Medway VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) of their intentions, who will then notify all yachts on VHF Ch74. Once Medway VTS is satisfied, permission will be granted to the aircraft to land when safe.
It is the pilots’ duty to remain out of the way of all vessels, as stated in the COLREGS.
All aircraft landing on the Medway are for training and leisure purposes, with no passenger loading, refuelling or landing available.
Pilot Anna Walker told the CA: ‘To be able to fly a seaplane, pilots have to undertake further training, equivalent to the yacht master exam so we understand what to expect of other boats.
‘It’s our responsibility to ensure the area is clear before landing. This includes checking Notes To Mariners before any flight. We’ve been landing on the Medway for more than 30 years, and before us, other planes have been landing there since 1908.’
Anna Walker said that they have been landing their plane, which is a similar size to a small Cessna, for 30 years with no restrictions.
She added: ‘We could land anywhere it was safe to do so. We draw less than one foot and are badly affected by weather, so the edges of the river were ideal for us and out of the way of boats. The new area is right alongside the channel and makes it difficult to land.’
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the controlling body of all aircraft, which state that the seaplane, an Aviat Husky run by Clipper Seaplanes from Rochester aerodrome in Kent, has all the appropriate permissions to land on the Medway and take off again.
A CAA spokesman said: ‘All pilots flying a seaplane must have a sea plane rating on their licence, which takes in all marine-related guidance and procedures.’
A copy of the Code is available by application to Peel Ports Medway or by downloading from the port’s website at: http://peelports.com/ports/sheerness/port-information
If you have had any experience of seaplanes landing in waters where you boat, please get in touch at Media@theca.org.uk.
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