Oviedo authorities have identified the bodies of a missing boater and passenger who died in an airboat accident in Lake Jesup that took place on Sunday, December 28 when the airboat struck State Road 417 Bridge in Central Florida. It is unclear why the accident took place, but the incident highlights the fact that airboats pose risks and can be dangerous if not maneuvered safely.
Airboats are different from conventional boats in that the engine is located above water and is often enclosed in a safety mesh. The location of the engine above the water protects animals that may be located beneath the surface and allows the boat to operate in swampy conditions that would not be navigable by conventional boats. Despite these adaptations, airboats, like traditional boats, are subject to the same accident hazards that conventional boaters face. If not carefully maneuvered, these boats can strike bridges, pylons, or other structures.
Airboats have some navigation limitations. They cannot be maneuvered in reverse and they can only be steered when the engine is running and providing forward thrust. The boats are meant to be best suited for shallow water though they can function in deeper water. Given these additional considerations, operators should be aware of the risks, limitations, and hazards of these boats before they attempt to navigate narrow channels or hazardous areas with high traffic.