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Cape Air revives proposal to use Boston Harbor for seaplanes

The East Boston Time-Free Press reports the airline wants to offer seaplane service to New York. Cape Air first proposed the idea in 2016.

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Fucking Epic! But how would they get around those pesky flight and height restrictions around Logain?

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Since the Boston harbor is at the door step of East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End wouldn’t one think that there is a risk of safety and concern here. Planes landing and taking off on the harbor , more airplane noise and pollution is what these neighborhoods need all because a corporation wants to maximize its profits. This is not Miami..
This step will be followed by private small plane owners who would like to land and take off on the harbor .

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This step will be followed by private small plane owners who would like to land and take off on the harbor.

Mmmm...

  • Land-based airplanes that can magically also be sea planes
  • Pilots qualified for land-based operations would also land on the water?

Late on meds?

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It will never happen aeroguy, skyscrapers are set to be built along near the aquarium. And probably future skyscrapers will be built on the Eastie waterfront (shipyard section) (Massport Territory)

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Private seaplane owners, you dope!!

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The exhaust fumes from these planes will drift into Eastie, trust me I’ve worked around small commuter planes at Logan and the fumes are extremely toxic to the lungs!!
We have the beautiful Rose Kennedy greenway( a stone’s throw away from the heat or) where people from all around gather for a day for the clean air , we cannot afford to let airplane exhaust fumes ruin someone’s day at the park.
Vote No to dirty air pollution.

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“It is relatively difficult to get from Downtown Boston to Midtown Manhattan,” said Bonney. “But with seaplanes from downtown to downtown you can reduce a three to four hour trip to just over an hour. So that’s really the genesis for this.

That's not difficult. This trip couldn't possibly be any easier by train. Time consuming, sure. But difficult? Not even slightly. And the trade off is you can get $100 round trip tickets on a weekend if you book a month or two out and forgo the Acela. I won't even get into having to schedule around 3-7 flights/day and having to plan travel around daylight hours.

Not saying I'm opposed to this idea, I actually think it's a smart move and can help drive the cost of travel to NYC down for the rest of us; but can do without the hard sell.

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That a journey as short, but as important as BOS to NYC should take 4 hours.

A similar journey in Europe or any other major country would take about 1.5 hours by train.

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Welcome to infrastructure in America. Especially in the Northeast.

But again, calling it relatively difficult is a stretch.

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To build up America's passenger train system, we'd have to move our freight hauling to trucks - like they do in Europe. Which would increase the cost of living for the average person, and increase air pollution and CO2 output - if you care about 'saving the planet.' Nice idea you have there.

Of course, such people never actually think before they type. It's the mindset of a 12 year old boy.

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Currently the percentage of goods shipped by rail in the US is 16.2%.

(Souce; Bureau of Transportation.)

In The EU the percentage of goods shipped inland by rail is 17.4 %

(Source; Eurostat.)

Pretty similar after all.

Some children never learn. If you are going to attack somebody, at least try to be factually correct.

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Of all that pesky freight on the NEC.

Which is basically zero, because the NEC doesn't have any freight.

More to the point, we'd have to bypass the portions of the NEC with curves. Which is most of it.

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...and

...and grade crossings
...and lack of express track

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The Northeast Corridor carries tons of freight every day.

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This is an interesting idea that deserves consideration.

But, can you name the three (or even one) most successful commercial seaplane operations in the U.S.? (I cannot.)

Operating an airline is an expensive, competitive situation. I'm sure it CAN be done. I doubt that it can be done commercially. (I hope I'm wrong.)

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https://www.flyalaskaseaplanes.com
http://www.penobscotislandair.net/float.php

Plenty in Canada too...
https://www.seairseaplanes.com
https://www.harbourair.com

Now it's not typicaly a metro linking service but that's not the question.

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From the article: "A lot of major cities having been doing this for years like Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver so it’s not a new concept."

But its true that nota lot of city pairs have the customer demand for such service AND both cities have appropriate water front facilities for such a service. Boston and New York uniquely check all the boxes for such service. Manhattan to Seaport in an hour without the stress of a mainline airport terminal seems appealing for business customers where cost is less of a concern than time.

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Boston had seaplane terminals early in the last century:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/5860919757/in/photol...

The Yankee Clipper seaplanes had a dock at Logan.

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I fondly recall watching the seaplanes fly in and out during a long-ago trip to Vancouver. Very cool.

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Alaska aviation is a 'special case' in in several ways.

Many Alaskan 'cities' (towns, villages) are land locked. They also have an unusually high accident rate. And, at least when Sen. Stevens was alive, they were treated differently by the FAA (to some extent, legitimate).

The competition for Cape Air are: (a) Driving one's own car; (b) one of several buses; and (c) Amtrak. Probably none are options in Alaska.

I hope this works. And Dan Wolf, Cape Air President, is a smart guy. But Alaska is not relevant.

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Check the business of Seaair and HarbourAir then - ferrying people from YVR to various islands around BC. Thriving commercial businesses with scheduled daily flights operating right next to a major airport.

There are other, better arguments against this to me:

1) Seaplanes (like all small prop planes) are super loud. Seaplanes are great fun but a train is much comfier and allows you to get work done, take phone calls, etc... even if it is a longer time commitment.
2) I'd think sea plane service to various harbors on the cape would be better and would also operate during the seasons where weather is less likely to be an issue.

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Seattle has a big seaplane base in Lake Union with flights to the San Juan Islands, Olympic Peninsula, and British Columbia

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An even better idea: A zipline! How hard could it be to run a wire from One World Trade Center to One Dalton?

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....wait for it. Waiiiit for it....

...gondola?

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The article says they want to dock the planes in Seaport vs Logan. that makes services even more appealing for business travelers.

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Boss, Boss! The Plane!

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are there disadvantages to seaplanes vs airplanes?

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Generally speaking, seaplanes can't fly at night. Or rather, they can't LAND at night.

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Seaplanes are nice, but they don't operate:

  • At night (with very limited exceptions, and it's significantly more dangerous)
  • In IFR conditions
  • In particularly choppy water

In the winter, they'd probably only be able to fly between 7:30 and 4, and that's when the weather is cooperative. So for a lunch meeting in NY on a nice day, sure. The rest of the time would be trickier. (Yes, summer is easier, but you still have to contend with darkness, weather, etc.)

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I believe that those seaplanes already provide service but only use water as a runway in New York, and land (Logan) here. I watched them do trial take offs and landings in Boston Harbor in 2016.

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But with seaplanes from downtown to downtown you can reduce a three to four hour trip to just over an hour.

I have some doubts about this. I'd want to see their numbers supported with more detail.

I mostly agree with the "three to four hour trip". Allow time to get from downtown Boston to Logan, some time (at least 45 minutes?) for getting through security and gate/boarding, an hour for flight time, then time to get from any of NYC's three major area airports to midtown... Yeah, that's three hours easily, and not even thinking about checking/claiming luggage.

A small seaplane terminal night result in expedited check-in/boarding.
The Boston one isn't going to be near most of downtown, though, and their NY site isn't midtown or downtown (and would be bus/taxi, not subway, so some time there, too).

What planes would they be flying? How fast can they make the trip? I used to take the shuttle flights between the two cities. Depending on conditions, a large jet can make the trip in 30-55 minutes (in the air, not including taxiing between terminal & runway). If it's direct, wind-favorable (takeoff Boston facing southwest, land LaGuardia or Newark facing south/southwest, or leave NY facing north/northeast and land Logan facing northeast) yeah, straight shot, can be done in 30 minutes. If the wind adds distance by requiring the traffic pattern to go east and north of Logan, and south & west of NYC, then it can be very nearly an hour. Are these seaplanes jets which can travel as fast, or just prop planes?

Also, what would the air traffic pattern be for a Boston marine air terminal? I think that a lot of the time there'd be too much water traffic, buildings, and Logan traffic patterns to allow takeoffs and landings by seaplanes any closer than Castle Island. That's a lot of taxiing time in water for your seaplane customers. Add that to the time in air.

It was interesting to read about an existing seaplane usage at E 23rd St in NYC. I thought there was just a heliport somewhere there.
Sometimes when I used to take those shuttle flights, it was Delta shuttle from LaGuardia. At that time, Delta Shuttle was in the old Marine Aviation Terminal building at LGA, where the clippers (flying boats) used to fly.

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