We asked dr. Bernd Strater, the head of EU funded FUSETRA program about the future of seaplane aviation in Europe.
Who initiated the FUSETRA Program, how it came into being and what is its purpose?
During my time as a member of the board of Dornier Aviation GmbH we investigated the seaplane market intensively. Amphibians were a domain of Dornier Company from the very beginning onwards, as you know. In the eightieth we tried to come into the market with an AAA (Advanced Amphibian Aircraft) project.
But we failed in collecting enough money for the development although it was a great European demand especially for fire fighting versions. Additionally I had continuous contacts to members of the Dornier family and family members were very interested to develop amphibians of new technology.
I am sure you know the Seastar project which is running since more than two decades by Conrado Dornier a grandson of Claude Dornier. Another grandson – Iren Dornier – bought and upgraded one of the most successful Dornier amphibians of the Second World War – the DO 24. This Do 24 was already modified by a governmental contract in the eightieth by the development of a new typical Dornier wing of new technology and a new propulsion system.
This version was called DO 24 ATT. Iren Donier – an excellent pilot – was very present in the international press when realising an around the world flight in 2005 collecting money for UNICEF. Iren Donier is also owner of a small aviation and technology company (Dornier Technology GmbH & Co KG) employing a couple of the most experienced aviation engineers of the former Dornier company (before it was sold from Deutsche Aerospace(DASA) to Fairchild).
This company developed in the last years a new two seater amphibian called S´Ray 007 and has a family concept for an amphibian family on the drawing board from 9 up to 19 (30) passengers. Additionally Iren – who owns an airline company in the Phillipines, too – has contact to many Seaplane operators who complained about difficult permission procedures, aircrafts with insufficient performances and some other hurdles for stabilizing a profitable business.
This background, a personal network of universities and operators and the EC policy to increase the share of small aircrafts in the European Aviation Transport Network and improve passenger choice for better, quicker and cheaper mobility motivated us to propose a so called Support Action programme within the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) financed by the EC. The programme was named FUSETRA (FUture SEaplane TRAffic).