Information current as of March 2012.
What is a flyboard?
The flyboard is a device which allows both aerial and underwater propulsion by directing pressurised water through nozzles. It is used in tandem with a personal watercraft.
There are various arrangements by which this device can be used. The first configuration is where one person sits on a personal watercraft controlling the throttle, while the other uses the flyboard. Direction is controlled, however, by the person on the flyboard. Another is where one person sits on a personal watercraft acting as an observer while the person on the flyboard controls the throttle as well as direction.
What are the issues involved with the use of a flyboard?
The following issues have been identified in relation to the use of the flyboard on NSW navigable waters:
- the safety of the operator regarding control of the device
- the safety of the operator given the potential to hit the water surface at high speed
- the safety of the operator during diving and resurfacing activities
- the safety of other persons in the water, including during resurfacing operations
- training of the operator in the take-off, flying, turning, hovering, diving, aerobatic, resurfacing and landing procedures
- The inability for a vessel operator to clearly determine the intended direction and manoeuvres of the flyboard user, particularly in relation to aerial and underwater manoeuvres.
The purchase price is approximately $8,000.
What is the regulatory status of this technology?
The flyboard is not suitable for registration and general use in NSW as it is considered to be an 'unsafe vessel' under Section 44 of the Marine Safety Act 1998 and Clause 54(2) (b) of the Marine Safety (General) Regulation 2009.
Flyboards may under certain circumstances and with the grant of an Aquatic License to a commercial operator, be able to be used by commercial operators under specific and strict Aquatic License conditions. Breach of the condition of the Aquatic License will result in the cancelling of the license.
Safe Operating Conditions
The following safe operating conditions are required for the use of flyboards. Additional conditions may be necessary depending on individual circumstances. Further conditions will accompany an application of an Aquatic License.
Common safe operating conditions include:
- The operator must hold a national Certificate of Operation covering the proposed activity
- A flyboard can only be operated in NSW under an Aquatic licence
- The operator of the personal watercraft must hold a Coxswain’s Certificate of Competency, must have undertaken the training course operated by the flyboard manufacturer and must have gained their accreditation as an instructor
- The flyboard must only operate in daylight hours and in conditions of good visibility
- Where water depth is less than 4 metres the flyboard must not operate at a height of more than 2 metres from the water surface or dive into the water
- Where another vessel approaches within 60 metres of the flyboard, the operator must lower the flyboard into the water
- Participants wear a protective helmet similar to those approved by a certified water ski association for water ski racing
- The area of use must be clearly marked with buoys in the water and signs at the ramp, lagoon entrance or water entry point
- A designated safety officer must remain on shore to observe activities and keep a look out for other water users. The shore based observer and the tender operator must be able to have voice communication
- The licensee may be required to cease operation during other licenced aquatic events held in the same location. NSW Maritime will notify the operator of other aquatic events.