Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Friday, May 6, 2016

Flying Boats Are Still Dead

Even if there are people and groups generating studies of new ones.

They are dead because the sea is a hostile environment to aircraft. If there is any sort of significant sea state, you're not really landing, you're more crashing into the water. Seaplanes have to be built pretty tough to take the abuse of water landings and takeoffs, which means that they have a heavier structure. A heavier structure means a higher empty weight, which means less of a payload-- less money to be made.

And then you can only operate seaplanes where there is a sufficiently large body of water. Which kind of lets out places like Denver or Atlanta.

If you can't operate from a protected harbor, then a good wind will result in a sea state that will either be high enough to suspend operations or will result in a rough enough takeoff or landing that the passengers will wish they had opted to fly on a 747/A380.

Not to mention in these days, operating a large airplane from an open-access waterway will drive the anti-terrorism polizei fucking bonkers.

Seaplanes are almost as dead as steam locomotives. And for good reasons.


Keaaukane said...

I still want an Icon A5. Even if the sales agreement is longer than War and Peace.

BadTux said...

Rather, they are a solution to a very limited problem. The number of otherwise-difficult-to-reach remote lakes where you can land an Icon A5 can be counted on the fingers and toes of the Duggar Family. Frankly, having read the specs on that plane as well as read about the contract controversy (vast swaths of which violate California law -- how the heck can they be based in Vacaville and be doing that?!) I have no idea why anybody would buy one.

As for larger seaplanes, they basically are only useful for accessing islands that are otherwise too rugged or too small for a decent-sized airstrip. I.e., again, a solution to a very limited problem, since most such islands are within easy ferry range of islands that *are* large enough for a decent-sized airstrip...

CenterPuke88 said...

The Icon has a problem with usable load, like the old Miata's (and the new ones, plus Corvette's and 370Z's at least too) had. My Gen 1 Miata had a usable capacity of 340 lbs, or a high schooler/anorexic college girl plus me. It's quite amusing to look at your cars useful load, just don't be surprised.

Eck! said...

Most small airplanes have an issue of useful load. Nothing new.
But if you add 10% to the weight in structure then it gets worse.
Oddly that problem work when you scale to very large, doesn't
go away but it allows for practical though usually specialized

The day of the NY Marine Air Terminal are long gone and never to return
but it was a landmark in a day when engines were not reliable and
the distances were great. Back then travel was an elegant thing,
now it requires hearing protection more than than.

The Icon, so what, just another small bird with payload and range issues.
The contract issues are a result of insurance and liability gone amuck.
Its it a good idea, we'll see if they are still around in five years.
If you want to fly into lakes and such get a 172 or 182 and add pontoons
much cheaper and less expensive when you break it.


BadTux said...

Eck, a contract which violates the laws of the state in which a company is based is *never* a good idea. It is de facto proof of bad faith and renders the whole contract worthless. Icon is trying to create new case law invalidating the "first sale" doctrine, in the end. It's a risky legal strategy, and one that likely won't fly in states like California with relatively consumer-friendly courts.

CenterPuke88 said...

Eck, that's why I flew a 172 instead of a 152 for training. Me, gas and a 95lb instructor would (just) work in a 152, but she left for a flight position in Arizona and the next instructor was 175lb guy. He was a great instructor, but neither one of us liked the math in the 152, especially as we couldn't use full fuel. I'm pointing out that most people have no idea their car has a useful load limit, just like an aircraft...and in many cases, the useful load is much smaller than people think. The average mid-sized sedan has a load of about 850 pounds, or four average people and maybe a couple of bags. Minivans are even more limited, having seats for 7 or 8 and often a useful load between 1100 and 1400 pounds, with the lower limits on the fancier models. That was why the top.of the line Honda van had seating for only 7, it had a useful load almost 300lb less than the stripper model.

BadTux said...

One difference between a small sedan and a Cessna is that the small sedan isn't going to have structural damage or fail to get off the ground if you overload it. I've seen cars, vans, pickup trucks loaded hundreds of pounds beyond their payload capacity and while it adversely affects handling and acceleration (and you have to be very careful not to exceed the weight ratings on the tires by *too* much or they'll blow), nobody is going to die from it (unless you blow a tire, at which point things get squirrely). Overload a small plane by as much as I've seen small cars overloaded and you won't get off the ground, and if you do, you won't land without collapsing the landing gear.

I.e., apples, oranges.

Eck! said...


I am a Cessna driver for 30+ years.

AS to the icon contract, the point of view was their possible survival of
liability that's killing the industry. Would I sign that one, no, you
gotta be cotton pickin nuts. But its a reflection of the total mess regarding
liability for manufacturers in the industry.

Tux, over gross is a stability and power issue. It may fly but performance is
likely outside the published levels of performance. That, and a stupid
thing to do.

The 152 could legit carry two 170 pound adults with full tanks and a bit to spare.
Drove more than a few as the 152 has a higher gross than the 150 (1670 Vs 1600 for later 150s and 1500 for earlier). The bigger issue is 39 inches door to door was close.


CenterPuke88 said...

I wasn't questioning your knowledge, Eck, just noting that I have some familiarity with useful/usable load. As for two 170's and full fuel, that's why me and the flyweight instructor could do it...she gave up 75 of those pounds, and I gratefully used 55 of them. As of over gross, too common...but aft of limit is self-correcting. I was commenting on the load in response to the "I want one"...if find the idea interesting, but the aircraft impractical.

Tux, tires are the limiting factor on almost any vehicle. The difference is the overweight vehicle generally will survive until they warm those tires up...so slow and gentle is the order of the day with two strippers in the only passenger seat of a Z3, plus it doesn't call attention to you by the police. Ah, nothing like the stupidity of the under 30.

jon spencer said...

Flying boats are dead for most commercial use.
There are a few operators that can make a profit, but only a very few.
And most of them operate float planes.

Now if you are a government, then maybe.
Japans US-2, Russia's Be-200 and Canada's Bombardier 415.
All three are pretty specialized aircraft.

Will said...

I'd rather a Republic SeaBee with the Corvette aluminum block v8 conversion, than a Cessna with floats. Main problem with the SeaBee is water landing with the gear down. Do that, and you'll be using SCUBA gear to retrieve your luggage, most likely. It'll fly again, after you flip it over, drag it out, and service the engine.

A problem with bigger seaplanes for commercial use is maintenance. Saltwater operations particularly. I seem to recall one of those twin engine types that lost a wing a few years ago, flying in the FL-Bahamas area. (someone on the beach got video of it)

Adding gear to a seaplane to make it amphibious tends to restrict its range and/or load capacity, due to the added weight. Makes it more versatile, but you pay a price. In ww2, when they added gear to the PBY-5A Catalina, it couldn't reach Pearl Harbor from CA. They stripped it off and shipped it separate. Most of the ones used for long range patrol, and Black Cat night attacks, were the earlier PBY-5, which was the non-gear version. Made loading bombs more of a hassle, but it could carry more, or go farther.