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Float Planes

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Float Planes as a Pathway

Many aquatic nuisance species, such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, can be unintentionally transported from one waterbody to another on the floats of float planes. Therefore, it is always important to clean aircraft of aquatic nuisance species before traveling rather than after landing at new locations and incorporate these procedures into the operation of your float plane.

What You Can Do

Before entering the aircraft:

  • Inspect and remove aquatic plants from the floats, wires or cables, and water rudders;
  • Pump floats (which may contain infested water);
  • If moored in zebra mussel infested waters for extended periods: check the transom, chine, bottom, wheel wells, and the step area of floats (see diagram).If zebra mussels are present on the floats, use the following options to remove or kill them:
    • wash with hot water; or
    • spray with high-pressure water; and/or
    • dry all parts of the floats in the sun for at least 5 days.

Pre take-off check:

  • Avoid taxing through heavy surface growths of aquatic plants before takeoff;
  • Raise and lower water rudders several times to clear off plants;

After take-off:

  • Raise and lower water rudders several times to free aquatic plant fragments;
  • If aquatic plants are visible on floats or water rudders, return to the lake you left and remove plant fragments


  • Remove aircraft from the water (as is often done at float plane bases) and allow all parts of the floats to dry. During hot summer temperatures, a few days will kill adult zebra mussels (longer drying times of up to 10 days are required to kill adult mussels during cool, humid weather);
  • Aircraft moored for extended periods in zebra mussel infested waters may have zebra mussels attached to the floats and should be cleaned regularly. In remote locations where zebra mussels are present, but where there are no provisions for drying, spraying, or treating the floats with hot water, hand-cleaning the submerged portions of floats with a scrub brush and physically removing adult mussels is the best option available for preventing the spread of zebra mussels.

OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2021). Pathways – Float Planes. Retrieved from:
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