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Before WWII, flying boats were a popular form of transport, and the advantages are many: No need to build runways, capability of emergency landing on water, availability of large landing sites and no tire wear and tear. Why have they been abandoned?

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Even flying boat can't land on water with any significant waves. So there is not much use for emergency landing. –  Jan Hudec Feb 24 at 6:56
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3 Answers

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The biggest single reason for the decline of flying boats was the proliferation of long runways during World War II. The infrastructure advantage of flying boats – the ability to operate heavy aircraft without long runways – was no longer relevant. Large airfields were a result of the long-range heavy bomber campaigns in Europe and Asia.

Century of Flight has an interesting article that goes a bit more in depth.

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Alhtough the initial prerequisite for the substitution was the development of aircraft which had sufficient range and reliability to get rid of seaborne fueling stops. –  yankeekilo Feb 22 at 20:38
That's true, but I'd argue that the earlier long-range aircraft had pretty abysmal takeoff performance. They needed the space available on the water to reach the ranges they offered. During WWII, much more powerful engines were developed that allowed the DC-6 and Constellation to have both great range and shorter takeoff requirements, plus the runways were now much longer. –  egid Feb 22 at 21:43
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Apart logistics and the availability of long runways afterr WWII, the reason for the phasing out of the sea planes was maintenance. The aircraft was operating in an extremely corrosive environment, something that can be seen nowadays in the firefighting planes like the Canadair and other smaller seaplanes. More info: FAA Corrosion Control.

Also the engines need to be inspected and cleaned after every operation. Generally speaking, operation in corrosive environments like water is something that requires very careful inspection and time consuming maintenance. For example even the Chinook helicopter needs extensive cleaning after operations that involve landing on water.

Finally the increased drag due to the shape of the flying boat is something that every designer and airliner wants to avoid.

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The second biggest reason: Where would they land in Denver? And many more cities that have robust air traffic but not many lakes or waterways that are suitable.

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Well, most flying boats actually have wheels and can land on a normal runway. :) –  Lnafziger Feb 22 at 5:24
@Lnafziger technically those are amphibians. And at the time (early 1930s) most were straight flying boats. Even the PBY Catalina wasn't an amphib until the final few models late in its career. –  egid Feb 22 at 6:31
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