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Buoyancy returns to seaplane market

German company Dornier Seaplane plans to relaunch its Seastar flying boat 17 years after the programme was halted due to a lack of funding. "It's a great time to bring the Seastar back," says Conrado Dornier, chairman of Dornier Seaplane and grandson of Dornier Aircraft founder Claude Dornier.

"The market is ripe for seaplanes from charter, private and commercial operators around the world who want swift, direct and low-cost transport to coastal towns, islands and remote locations". Dornier Seaplane began taking orders for the 12-seat all-composite aircraft at the NBAA convention in Orlando Florida this week and will give the go-ahead for a formal production launch in March next year if it secures 25 sales or more, Dornier says.

The $6 million, 12-seat Seastar aircraft will be manufactured in the USA at an as-yet undecided location "which is likely to be in the south-east of the country," says Dornier. The company is wholly funded by the Dornier family, who have invested $150 million to design, develop and certificate the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135A-powered aircraft in the USA and Europe.

Dornier Seastar

Dornier says the company is seeking an additional $150 million to bring the aircraft to full production status and is confident that the market will demand up to 50 Seastars a year, which will generate at its full production rate $300 million in revenue annually for the company.

Dornier has already built two prototypes, one of which was on display at the show, and says it should be able to produce another aircraft within 24 months and the first 10 serial numbers by 2012 when the upgraded design, incorporating glass cockpit, known icing, auto pilot and air conditioning, will be produced.

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