Seawind expects commercial lift off

SeawindinFlightFrancois Shalom, reporting for the Montreal Gazette writes that one of the more innovative designs and a downright beautiful aircraft – the Seawind – is about to receive certification from Transport Canada!  Congratulations to Richard Silva!

From the article:

St-Jean-sur-Richelieu — It’s been a long, hard road, but Richard Silva truly believes he’s just about there.

“You can’t be in the aviation business if you’re not an optimist,” said the 70-plus-year-old (he won’t say exactly) Pennsylvania businessman.

He is an optimist.

The former industrial architect and lifelong aviation buff insisted in recent interviews that he will receive Transport Canada’s certification of his amphibian aircraft, the Seawind, before this year is out, and that production at the hangar he bought in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu will ramp up in January.

“I’m confident we’re through the worst part now. We’ve done it. We’ve got to clear up paperwork, but there isn’t any test we haven’t passed.”

The worst part could refer to the long and arduous certification process; running out of money in 2007, which forced the temporary cancellation of the project; or the crash right after that by the test pilot who was supposed to lead the venture from an unregulated assemble-yourself kit for hobby flyers to an aircraft approved by Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The crash near Winnipeg killed the pilot. And it also inflicted damage to Silva’s near-obsession with transforming the Seawind.

He was tired of the Wild West mindset of irresponsible buyers with a death wish who over-powered the 300-horsepower float plane with 700-horsepower engines — often crashing them, along with the plane’s reputation. Kit planes are unregulated and clients are free to assemble them as they see fit.

So began the long conversion in 2002 to a certified airplane, with the excruciatingly thorough — and slow — vetting that stringent regulations require.

Why in Quebec?

“Well, I didn’t come here for your balmy weather,” quipped Silva, who lives in Valley Forge, Pa., and commutes to St-Jean, where he stays for two weeks most months.

Indeed not. In fact, it was for Quebec’s generous subsidies for aerospace projects, a sector the province deems strategic for the economy.

But first he had to rebuild the Seawind’s reputation to have any chance of getting Transport Canada to agree even to look at — and more importantly, certify — the water-plane.

So he enlisted John Taylor, the former vice-president of engineering at Bombardier Inc.’s aerospace division, who liked the chances of the kit plane’s conversion.

“The condition I placed for coming on board,” said Taylor from his Vancouver Island home, “was that the NRC (Ottawa’s National Research Council) come on board to certify the aircraft. They are trusted and have very high standards.”

And so they did.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

From the Seawind website:

The Seawind Aircraft is a perfect union of form and function. The sleek flowing lines make it the most striking of land or seaplanes. We have developed the world’s best and fastest four/five-place amphibian.

The spacious cabin, with its panoramic view, quiet environment, and form fitting seats is all combined to create total traveling comfort. The cabin accommodates four adults or a family of five with three children.

Whether your mission is cross country travel or a business trip to the city, Seawind does it all – fast.  The structural integrity and versatility of a high-performance amphibian makes the Seawind the go-anywhere aircraft.  The cost of the Seawind is comparable to any four-place, composite, land plane despite its superlative structural integrity.

You can find out more about the Seawind HERE.