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Is it possible a European revival of Seaplanes?

TOP NEWS / February 21, 2015

Seaplanes have a long history as were built from the beginning of aviation and were used mainly for booming and rescue operations. Last years, seaplanes have changed completely as they transformed to an ideal mean of transport for tourism, assistance to local communities, in fire extinguishing operations, in maritime search and provide medical assistance in remote areas.

Nowadays, regular scheduled seaplane flights take place in just a few places in the world, such as the USA, Canada and some parts of North America, like in Ontario, Quebec, Maine and Florida. However, flights on demand are offered in all five continents.

A short list of the most basic advantages from the operation of seaplanes is the following:

  1. There is no need for infrastructures, just a stretch of water.
  2. Seaplanes can operate wherever there is water, hence in lots of locations, such as on seashore, rivers, canals and lakes.
  3. Seaplanes are more flexible than helicopters and are low-cost flying machines like airplanes.
  4. Seaplane’s activities do not normally impose restrictions on other activities on the same body of water.
  5. Seaplanes are extremely environment-friendly as they do not have immersed propellers
  6. Seaplanes are the safest flying machines.

Despite the above benefits, unfortunately in Europe, important seaplane’s activities can be found only in just a few countries, like Sweden, Norway and Finland and in Italy, while in other European countries a few private seaplanes and some small seaplane companies operate.

Therefore, the main target of European Community thru the FUSETRA (Future Seaplane Traffic) project is to increase seaplane traffic in Europe by improving various problems regarding the operation of hydroplane, in particular:

  1. Many seaplanes in Europe are amphibious given the lack of seaplane bases for maintenance and refueling.
  2. It is occurred a lack of qualified examiners for seaplanes in Europe. Even the few examiners that are available mostly have no commercial experience of seaplane operations.
  3. Some regulators in Europe are happy to issue exemptions to allow landing at unlicensed water aerodromes, whilst others insist on full approval of a water aerodrome.
  4. A large percentage of the population was worried about the environment. Of course, air transport would always have an environmental impact. This issue was addressed during the workshops…Read more

In Europe, the most important problem from all, which limits the use of Hydroplane, does not come from nature factors, like wind, waves, extreme phenomena, but from legislation.

In many countries, where the water aviation has never or has not existed for decades, regulations require authorization for every single seaplane operation or for any single site where seaplane operations could take place, a fact that represents the biggest limitation in the development of seaplane activities.

On the other hand, there are countries, where water aviation developed from the beginning of aviation itself and has never stopped, such as in the USA, Canada, Italy or Scandinavia.

In these countries a seaplane can operate in any body of water without the need for specific authorization. Regulation of this type is a fundamental requirement for the development of seaplane activities in whole Europe in the future.


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