Saturday, July 06, 2013

The practicalities of bringing back flying boats

The Empire flying boat had a huge romantic appeal, and it is tempting to imagine similar aircraft flying in and out of the Thames Estuary without the need for elaborate infrastructure (Letters, July 2).

Sadly, there are practical reasons why flying boats are seldom used for passenger services except on specialized routes, such as those involving small islands.

A flexible service would require the use of amphibious aircraft able to operate from conventional runways as well as water, which adds to weight, complexity and operating costs. Most large amphibious aircraft are built for specialized applications such as fighting forest fires.

Having said that, at least one such aircraft, the Beriev Be-200, is available as a passenger variant. A business opportunity for someone, perhaps?

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