NBAA 09: Buoyant seaplane market triggers Seastar launch

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Dornier Seaplane announced at NBAA that it would launch production of its Seastar amphibian, having exceeded the requisite order tally needed to give the 10-seat aircraft a second lease of life.

The Seastar - which marked at the show the end of a six-month demonstration tour of North America - first flew in 1984, and three were built in Germany before production was halted in 1991 due to a lack of funding.

Speaking at the show, Dornier Seaplane chief executive Joe Walker said the privately owned company had clinched more than 25 letters of intent for the twin-engined turboprop, from which it is currently converting into firm orders.

The first Seastar is scheduled to roll-off the production line in two years. The first 10 aircraft will be delivered in the Seastar's original configuration and subsequent aircraft will be upgraded design with a glass cockpit, known icing, autopilot and air conditioning.

Final assembly site for the Seastar has been narrowed to two sites in Canada - St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, or North Bay, Ontario. A final decision is expected within 90 days. "Momentum is building rapidly," said Walker. "In addition to finalising the site selection, the company is in detailed discussions with our major suppliers. The supplier selection process will be completed over the next 12 months."

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135A-powered Seastar is the first new purpose-built amphibian aircraft developed in the past 50 years, said the Punta Gorda, Florida-based start-up, and has already been certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.