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Sat, Apr 16, 2005

Seawind... Back on Track?

ANN Contributor John Ballantyne

Funding for the Seawind has been a little iffy over the past year or so according to Richard Silva, company spokesperson, during a lightly attended press conference at Lakeland. Now, however, the company is solidly back on track, narrowly avoiding loss of critical employees or significant disruption of the development process, he said.

Silva went on to report that Seawind now has 40 employees, all composite molds are done as are the wing fixtures, and are being used for fabrication of two aircraft for certification testing according to the company spokespersons. Landing gear drop tests are done for certification, passed the 26-G seat test, but were a little too strong vertical 19-G crash test so we have to "weaken the seats a little to absorb more energy."

Seventy-two Seawinds have been flying during the past 12 years in the experimental category which has provided proof of concept experience. "Certification will take place in Canada with concurrent USA certification. The company goal is to be flight testing this fall (2005) with production this winter as a certified kit, Silva continued. "We have completed about 100 acres of trees in the making of paper, so we estimate being about 74% done," he said jokingly.

"While those first 2 production planes are presently being created we (Seawind) are actually producing multiple components to facilitate the construction of subsequent aircraft. 'The company plans to deliver 24 aircraft the first (next) year and 40 more per year to a total of 100 or so units per year by 2008, they announced. If you placed an order right now, Seawind expects to deliver the aircraft to you in November of 2006."

Exceptional aspects of this unique amphibious aircraft include the wide cockpit (54 inch) which will be certified with recently lowered back seats to improved headroom for adults and to offer an optional three-seat child seat back seat. The new trailing-link landing gear is superior for rough field operation.

Insurance is an issue for amphibious aircraft, so Seawind has created a captive insurance company, Seawind Guardian Insurance, for hull coverage with guaranteed the price of repair at the factory of a damaged aircraft. "The Seawind is unusual in that it will not sink," Silva told ANN, after the conference was completed. "It has enough foam in the four flotation compartments that, even with multiple punctures, the plane will float, so we are able to salvage then repair them."



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