Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Seaplane returns to Auckland skies

DHC-2 Beaver sea plane ZK-AMA during a test flight between Auckland and Great Barrier Island. Photo / John King
DHC-2 Beaver sea plane ZK-AMA during a test flight between Auckland and Great Barrier Island. Photo / John King

A seaplane service is due in Auckland skies today after an absence of 24 years.

A de Havilland Beaver is due to fly passengers to Waiheke Island this afternoon - weather permitting.

Seaplanes last operated from Mechanics Bay in 1989 and a new company Auckland Seaplanes will operate out of Westhaven.

The Beaver can take up to seven passengers on scenic flights, wine and dining tours to Waiheke and out to other Gulf islands including Great Barrier Island.

Chief executive Chris Sattler said the plane was built in 1961 and was bought in Vancouver, Canada where it had been used for years by its owner to fly a short hop to his fishing lodge.

The aircraft has a cruising speed of about 180kph.

It is capable of taking off in just 300m to 400m of water and operating in winds of up to 25 knots although it was unlikely to fly in anything above 15 knots, Sattler said.

The plane requires visibility of 5km and a cloud ceiling of no less than 1000 feet.

Under maritime rules no vessel, including windsurfers and kite boards, must impede a seaplane in the process of landing and take-off. Sattler said take off and landing would not be done unless the area is clear of traffic.

Developed soon after the Second World War, Canada's de Havilland company built more than 1600 of the planes until 1967.

The plane has been described as a "half-tonne, flying, pickup truck" capable of setting down on land, water, or snow with its powerful single engine giving it formidable short take-off and landing capability.

Sattler is a former German Air Force engineer and said his aircraft could be used to carry cargo and for search and rescue operations if called on.

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