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Future Seaplane Traffic - Transport Technologies for the Future

Tags: Air

State of the Art - Background

The annual air traffic growth rate of 5% and higher has been almost constant over the last decade but the IATA forecasts an even higher rate for the coming years. Consequently, the capacity overload of current airports and the demand for point-to-point connections has grown considerably.

The length of coastline and number of islands in Europe were considerably increased when the new Member States joined the EU, creating great potential for an international air traffic system using seaplanes/amphibians. With these vehicles, new traffic routes can be developed with the advantage of short flights, including point-to-point connections to national and international airports using natural landing strips.

At the moment, scheduled commuter seaplane/amphibian operations are only available in very few locations in Europe.

Operators and entrepreneurs interested in starting new seaplane businesses in Europe report a lack of modern airplanes, international standards and rules, and a shortage of expertise.

Based on this preliminary analysis the proposal aims to investigate today's seaplane situation, to evaluate its weaknesses and strengths, and to elaborate a set of concepts and requirements for a future seaplane air transportation system for 'Improving passenger choice in air transportation', including technical requirements for 'new vehicles'.


The general objective of the FUSETRA proposal is to demonstrate the needs, and quantify the potential, of seaplane traffic business development, as well as to propose recommendations for the introduction of a new seaplane/amphibian transportation system.

The main objectives are:

- identifying possibilities to improve seamless travel by implementing seaplane transportation systems within the European air and landside transportation infrastructure;

- developing solutions which are ready for implementation by ensuring passenger acceptance (evidence of seamless travel, flight-time reduction, reduced operational cost, operational safety, better access to international air traffic);

- identifying a reduced environmental impact of air transport by developing solutions for point-to-point seaplane operations;

- propositions for enabling a uniform implementation (EU-wide) of the chosen seaplane operational system (regulatory issues, water landing fields, etc.);

- improving the accessibility of regions by serving both business and private passengers;

- identifying the number of seaplanes needed for future operations and technical specifications for new vehicles fulfilling the demand of stakeholders (operators, passengers, etc.);

- improving transnational co-operation by organising international workshops.

Description of Work

There are two major tasks:

- state-of-the-art status of worldwide seaplane/amphibian operation and their effectiveness;

- the definition of future-oriented concepts and requirements for a new European seaplane/amphibian transport system, and its integration into the sea/air/land transport chain and the necessary regulatory issues.

Three workshops will be organised in different maritime locations (Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic) for the collection of existing experiences and ideas for better and more effective future traffic concepts. All the important stakeholders will be invited. Besides prepared speeches given by experts, open panel discussions and accompanying working group activities will take place.

Based on these results, the experience of our industrial partners and the research work carried out by the universities, concepts and requirements will be established for a rational seaplane infrastructure, aircraft fleet structure and market-oriented vehicles for a future regional airline network in Europe. Additionally, the integration of seaplane/amphibian operation into the current seamless transport system will be considered, taking into account environmental and air traffic management constraints too.

Additionally, a regulatory roadmap for assuring effective and environmental feasible operations and the development of new infrastructure and vehicles shall be developed.

Expected Results

The following results will be achieved and published:

- current seaplane/amphibian database;

- workshop proceedings summarising the results as experiences, deficiencies, market needs, economical, environmental and regulatory issues;

- a report on the current strengths and weaknesses of existing seaplane/amphibian transport systems, as well as future opportunities for a new seaplane/amphibian transport system;

- a report on the requirements for a new seaplane/amphibian transport system as an integrated part of a future sea/land/air transportation system;

- a roadmap for regulatory issues.

The procedure and results of FUSETRA will have a significant impact on the population. For regional locations with no ideal transport connections, sea parks would support the accessibility and mobility of the population and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, sea parks would give those regions a better chance for regional economic development.

FUSETRA will also have a direct impact on the strategy of future regulatory issues in its interdisciplinary co-operation between sea, land and air, between local and EU authorities.