Several readers contacted us to say the air tender of the future might be a plane and not a helicopter. We found the concept too intriguing not to investigate further.
As we stated in June, “In the rarified air of multimillion dollar superyachts and gigayachts, helipads on luxury mega yacht charter vessels like motor yacht AIR and motor yacht MOONLIGHT II commonplace…”
That being said, there are four compelling reasons why seaplanes might give helicopters a run for their money: acquisition cost, maintenance cost, payload, and range.
Simply put – it is often more affordable to acquire and maintain a seaplane when compared to a helicopter; and while we found payload comparisons vary depending upon the type of airship, the seaplanes far exceed the range of the typical helicopters.
What might further tip the scales in the favor of seaplanes is the new generation of planes known as Special Light Sport Aircraft.
In general, sports aircraft are cheaper to build than most helicopters. With fewer training hours required, it is also easier and less expensive for people to get a sport pilot license as compared to a traditional pilot’s license.
As a tender to a luxury yacht charter vessel, the most interesting new sports plane is the Icon A5, slated for full production later this year. The A5 is a 2-seat composite amphibian. Weighing just 1000 pounds, the plane features folding wings, allowing the aircraft to be stored onboard a yacht in a space no larger than 28 by 9 feet.
With a price of just $135,000, the Icon A5 could prove to be the low cost air tender of the future.
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