I noticed that the saftey cards on a recent domestic US flight were the "overwater" version. Two questions about this:

  • What qualifies as "overwater"? Is there an official (i.e., FAA) definition?
  • Do airlines really have certain aircraft with booklets that aren't "overwater"? Are they prevented from flying certain routes without the right safety booklets?
  • $\begingroup$ Flew Ft Lauderdale to New York last week and wondered the same.. the safety card in a A319 (OW)! $\endgroup$ – greener Jul 8 '14 at 23:29

I think that 14 CFR Section 91.205(b)(12) defines "overwater".

(12) If the aircraft is operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore, approved flotation gear readily available to each occupant and, unless the aircraft is operating under part 121 of this subchapter, at least one pyrotechnic signaling device. As used in this section, “shore” means that area of the land adjacent to the water which is above the high water mark and excludes land areas which are intermittently under water.

Then 14 CFR Section 121.573 outlines the passenger briefing requirements for flights with overwater operations:

§121.573 Briefing passengers: Extended overwater operations.

(a) In addition to the oral briefing required by §121.571

(a), each certificate holder operating an airplane in extended overwater operations shall ensure that all passengers are orally briefed by the appropriate crewmember on the location and operation of life preservers, liferafts, and other flotation means, including a demonstration of the method of donning and inflating a life preserver.

(b) The certificate holder shall describe in its manual the procedure to be followed in the briefing required by paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) If the airplane proceeds directly over water after takeoff, the briefing required by paragraph (a) of this section must be done before takeoff.

(d) If the airplane does not proceed directly over water after takeoff, no part of the briefing required by paragraph (a) of this section has to be given before takeoff, but the entire briefing must be given before reaching the overwater part of the flight.

Lastly, the requirement for printed safety booklets is from 14 CFR 121.571(b) And to answer your last question, it needs to have only information pertinent to the flight, so if the airplane is not going to fly overwater at all, it doesn't need to have it.

(b) Each certificate holder must carry on each passenger-carrying airplane, in convenient locations for use of each passenger, printed cards supplementing the oral briefing. Each card must contain information pertinent only to the type and model of airplane used for that flight, including—

(1) Diagrams of, and methods of operating, the emergency exits;

(2) Other instructions necessary for use of emergency equipment; and

(3) No later than June 12, 2005, for Domestic and Flag scheduled passenger-carrying flights, the sentence, “Final assembly of this airplane was completed in [INSERT NAME OF COUNTRY].”

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    $\begingroup$ Note that part 121 of the FARs only applies to "air carriers and operators for compensation or hire" (and similarly 91.205(b)(12) only to "for hire" operations), though it's a good idea for part 91 operators to carry flotation devices & ensure their passengers know how to use them if the flight will be over any significant amount of water. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jul 8 '14 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ :) Capt Sulley's flight wasn't overwater, he just didn't want to attempt to land in downtown Manhattan... $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Jul 9 '14 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 yeah, there is a lot of wisdom in stuff required for "for hire" operations that not-for-hire operators can do to enhance safety. $\endgroup$ – Canuk Jul 9 '14 at 16:10

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