Investors sought to bring Seastar back to market

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German manufacturer believes global demand justifies relaunch of Dornier amphibian

German aircraft developer Dornier Seawings is seeking investment to relaunch production of the Dornier CD-2 Seastar amphibian.

The company is evaluating facilities in Asia and Europe before starting a planned development phase by the end of this year. Company sources say it has completed a feasibility study and last year commissioned an independent market analysis that pointed to a global demand for around 250 amphibious aircraft over 10 years. The source says 250 "is a very conservative figure, but we have based our planning on this figure and believe we could break even well below that".

Dornier Seawings says it is targeting three market segments, with three different versions of the aircraft: a para-public surveillance variant is being marketed to government agencies; a 12-seater regional airline configuration is being promoted to island-hopper charter operators; while a six-seat VIP version for yacht owners is also being considered.

The aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-112 engines are mounted over the central fuselage in a push/pull configuration. Dornier Seawings engineers say the endurance of the aircraft can be extended by it flying on a single engine, from 4.5h to around 11h for surveillance missions.

A decision on a final assembly line will depend on the availability of manufacturing facilities and on potential local markets, the company adds. Dornier Seawings previously attempted to launch a manufacturing joint venture with India's Hindustan Aeronautics, but the German company refuses to disclose potential sites.

One of the two Seastar prototypes has been restored and received public transport certification last December. Dornier Seawings has taken several potential investors and customers on demonstration flights from its base at Eurasburg, near Munich.

Dornier Seawings is headed by Conrado Dornier, founder of defunct Dornier Seastar, which acquired the design rights from Dornier Composite Aircraft following its bankruptcy in 1992. The company has no link with Hungarian amphibian kitplane manufacturer SeaStar Aircraft.

JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON