April 20, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
It’s been a long road, but Seawind now has the funding for flight testing and certification and plans to deliver aircraft in 2010. Certification money came from the remaining 56 customers, while production ramp-up funding is covered in a letter of intent from a Pacific Rim country. A VFR model is $350,000.
Company President Dick Silva said aircraft No. 2, partially completed at the Seawind plant in Canada when operations stopped in 2007, will be used for flight testing. A third aircraft consisting now of only a few assembled parts will be used for autopilot and FADEC engine certification and to approve the aircraft for IFR flight.
The plant is SeaAir Composites at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec near the border with New York. It is an independent composites sales company that has exclusive rights to Seawind construction. Silva is a major shareholder in the firm. Sales and service are provided out of Kimberton, Pa. Rehiring of employees has begun.
Certification efforts in 2007 were complicated by a fatal accident. A report indicates there was no in-flight failure, Silva said. At the time company officials said they needed $4 million to complete certification and ramp up production.
Silva said orders have dwindled from 90 to 56 over the past two years, but only a few were because of the economy. Most lost orders were because of uncertainty that the seaplane would be completed.
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