ANCHORAGE - A company proposing to launch a new type of transportation service in Southeast Alaska is back on track with a new vehicle.
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Pacific Seaflight has proposed to launch high-speed service between Juneau and other cities in Southeast with a craft that flies just above the water and will cruise at speeds as fast 125 mph.
"We have found a new manufacturer and hope to have the service up and running as soon as we can find some investors to help with this," said Linus Romey, president of Pacific Seaflight.
Romey, who hopes to be operating by April 2008, had originally contracted with a company in Singapore which used a German design that did not pan out, forcing him to delay the operation's start.
"They didn't do what they said they were going to do, and so I had to look for another vessel for our service," Romey said. Pacific Seaflight had hoped to start service in 2003 after the Singapore firm promised to deliver the craft within six months.
Romey, who was the first runner-up in the 2003 Alaska Business Plan Contest, said his business plan is to obtain $5 million in financing. His immediate need is for financing to purchase the $1.2 million craft and then to complete a formula of debt and equity financing.
Romey is introducing a 12-passenger, Russian-designed craft that operates off what is called "ground effect."
The craft, referred to as a wing-in-ground effect vehicle, is neither an airboat or a hovercraft. In this case, what looks like an aerodynamic boat with wings rises out of the water using the lift from its wings, and continues to move over the water using a cushion of air under the wings and body.
Powered by two turbo-charged Audi diesel engines that turn six-bladed propellers, the craft lifts out of the water at 50 mph and accelerates up to a top speed of 125 mph, flying nine feet over the water.
Romey said the craft has a wingspan of 52 feet, a range of 1,400 miles, and can operate with normal diesel fuel.
"This is the perfect vessel for Juneau, whether the tide is in our out we can leave from there, and strike out for Hoonah, Haines, or Skagway," he said.