Dornier Seawings has rolled out the first new-generation Seastar amphibian, and is preparing the twin-engined turboprop for its maiden sortie in the first half of 2019.
The programme milestone was marked at a formal ceremony on 18 August at Dornier’s German final assembly facility in Oberpfaffenhoffen, near Munich. It came more than 26 years after the original programme was mothballed due to financing problems. Despite securing US and European certification in 1991 for the 12-seat model, no aircraft were ever delivered.
The Seastar was acquired in 2013 by Chinese companies Wuxi Communications Industry and Wuxi Industrial Development, although the Dornier family still retains a minority stake.
The new-generation aircraft boasts a number of improvements over the original version. These include a redesigned and upgraded interior, a Honeywell Primus Epic 2.0 avionics suite, a stern hydro-thruster for improved water manoeuvring, new corrosion-resistant landing gear supplied by Sumitomo Precison Products, a hydraulic electrically steerable nose gear, and five-blade composite propellers designed by MT.
Type certification for the upgraded model is expected in 2020.
China is expected to be a key market for the Seastar. Speaking at the roll-out, Dornier Seawings chief executive Amy Pan said that as the country "opens up and develops", the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A-powered type “will be able to seize opportunities and play a significant role in the general aviation industry on a global scale.”