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The Seawind amphibian

Is the Seawind coming back?

You may wonder whatever happened to Seawind?  The Seawind amphibian had been undergoing certification with Transport Canada and the FAA for over three years when, last August, it sustained a double setback.

Because of its prolonged efforts in certification, Seawind, financed largely by its sole owner and president, Richard Silva, was running out of funds in August 2007.  Other funding had consisted of government grants and bank loans.   

At the same time, with flight testing nearly 70% complete, there were personnel problems, and Silva had decided to engage another team to complete the flight testing.  The test pilot was terminated and directed to bring the aircraft back to the factory.   

On August 16, the same day that Silva had come to terms with an investor to complete the project, a call came with the news that the test pilot had crashed the aircraft and did not survive.  The investment offer was immediately withdrawn.   

The ensuing limited investigation by the Canada Safety Board (CSB) of the unauthorized flight found no structural failure of the aircraft and left more questions than answers.  Silva was told the CSB does not investigate the cause of a crash of a general aviation aircraft the size of the Seawind unless there are thousands flying.  They leave that to the manufacturer.  

To Seawind's credit, it did not attempt to hush up events.  It immediately posted news about the crash on its web site, www.seawind.net, and provided updates as facts and information became available, announcing as well the shutdown of operations at its facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.  A complete history of events was posted in the company's fall 2007 newsletter.   

Had you been following those events, you may have expected that to be the end of the story.  

But Silva said, "The outpouring of letters of encouragement and support has been overwhelming.  Many people have been following the Seawind from the early days when it was developed as a kit 17 years ago."  

That faith and encouragement from loyal Seawind followers kept hope alive, and Silva mounted an effort to find investors for what, in aviation, is a paltry sum: $2 million to complete certification and $2 million to ramp up production.  

The company just cleared a major hurdle when it successfully secured its production assets and its 82,000-square-foot facility at Saint-Jean Airport.  A search for funding has Seawind half way in its quest for the certification funding.  Ironically, the project has a source for the $2 million in production funding after certification.  Silva explained, "The reason that we need only $2 million to complete certification is that we have kept a tight reign on spending."   

The company had 93 customer orders prior to the shutdown, and 70 of those customers have stayed with the project, according to Silva, who added they've had 18 requests for contracts if the project resumes.  He attributes that customer loyalty to keeping his order holders well informed about both the good and the bad news during the shutdown period.    

Funding problems have long plagued aviation.  "Over the years," Silva said, "numerous aircraft companies like Piper, Mooney, and Columbia have changed ownership, and others like Adam, Tiger, Symphony, TaylorCraft, and Lake Aircraft have been closed.   

"We did not give up, and we have our production facility secured.  If it is at all possible, we will resume operations, and the Seawind will be coming back."  

For more information, visit the web site at www.seawind.net or call the company at 610-384-7000.  

Press release issued by Seawind LLC on July 21, 2008

 

 Contact details from our directory:
Seawind LLC Airframer

 

 Related aircraft programs:
Seawind 300C

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