A Second Air-Carrier Wants to Join Cape Air in Running a Seaplane Operation Off Eastie’s Shores

A second carrier wants to join Cape Air in running seaplanes from Boston Harbor, just off Eastie’s shore, to New York Cit. Causing more noise for the residents of Beacon Hill. 

Cape Air, who got approval from the FAA to fly seaplanes on a route from Boston to a pier on Manhattan’s East Side, began trial runs of the new operation last year. 

Now Tailwind Air has scheduled two public community meetings with Eastie residents regarding their proposed plan for seaplane service from Boston Harbor to New York City. 

The meetings are sure to be contentious given the fact that Cape Air’s CEO Dan Wolf and Senior Vice President Andrew Bonney repeatedly told the community at numerous meetings the takeoff and landing area in the water off Eastie would be restricted by the FAA to only Cape Air operations.

“This is a private, restricted sea base,” said Bonney at a community meeting in 2018 trying to garner support for the seaplane plan. “So you wouldn’t have to worry about other carriers using the area.”

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 10 am to 12 pm with a second meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12 from 7 pm to 9 pm. 

Both meetings will be held via ZOOM at https://tinyurl.com/tailwindcommunitymeeting. 

To RSVP and submit questions beforehand, please email [email protected]

“So let me get this straight…We are going from zero to two seaplane operations?”, said a frustrated April Abenza of Jeffries Point. 

It seems a look into FAA approvals for the water landing area shows Tailwind, as well as Cape Air, were both granted the right to use the harbor for seaplane operations. Something Wolf and Bonney were allegedly not up front about when pitching their own seaplane operation. 

Also, when Cape Air began testing flights, Jeffries Point residents reported the planes seemed a lot louder than described by Wolf and Bonney. 

The planes Cape Air would use are new Cessna Caravan nine-seat seaplanes. 

“We did a sound study because we wanted to know what the acoustic impacts would be to the surrounding area,” said Bonney at a community meeting. “The conclusion of the study was the impact would be minimal.”

Bonney said the single engine Cessna is a relatively quiet seaplane.

“They are small aircraft that are pretty high performance so when they take off they climb to altitude relatively quickly to mitigate sound impacts,” he said at the time. 

However, they proved to be anything but, they did not climb to high altitudes in the harbor quickly, and usually banked right and headed over Beacon Hill. 

Residents in Jeffries Point, as well as Beacon Hill, expressed disappointment over the operations and wished the planes were as quiet as Cape Air initially led on. 

Wolf said Cape Air’s plans involve flying seaplanes in and out of Boston Harbor. Wolf explained that a lot of major cities like Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver have been doing this for years now so it’s not a new concept.

Cape Air’s seaplanes will take off and land on the water just off Eastie’s shores near the Hyatt Boston Hotel and land at an already established seaplane dock on the East River in Manhattan near East 23th Street.

“It is relatively difficult to get from Downtown Boston to Midtown Manhattan,” said Cape Air’s Senior Vice President Andrew Bonney at a community meeting recently. “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. So people ask why seaplanes? Well, with this plan you remove all the other parts of flying except the flying part.”

Bonney said commuters on seaplanes are not subjected to TSA security lines, ticket lines, luggage lines and other inconveniences that are usually part of flying. Seaplane passengers would simply arrive at a proposed dock in Southie’s Seaport District, board the seaplane, taxi out to the takeoff area near the Hyatt and then be on their way to New York City.

“And on the other end in New York it’s the same thing,” said Bonney. “We would land at the existing seaplane dock in Manhattan that has existed since the 1930’s.”

Bonney said one key fact about seaplanes is that they can only operate in daylight because pilots must be able to see the surface of the water and horizon.

“There really isn’t the concern of aircraft waking you up at night…just not possible with seaplanes,” said Bonney. The takeoff and landing base in the water off the Hyatt, explained Bonney, would be restricted by the FAA to only Cape Air operations.

“This is a private, restricted sea base,” said Bonney. “So you wouldn’t have to worry about other carriers using the area.”

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