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Given the length of the Californian coast, I was surprised to find so few seaplane services. I would expect air taxis between Long Beach and the coast, for example.

Is it permitted to land seaplanes along the coast at, say, Zuma Beach geo://34.016286,-118.820402 and do whatever local boats do for mooring?

In California, for example, you will not need to obtain certification of either a landing area or mooring area. Seaplane Pilots Association

There appear to be very few seaplane bases in California. Seaplanebase only lists five.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is not clear from the title precisely what you are asking. The question in the text seems to be "Is it permitted to land seaplanes along the coast [of California]". Perhaps you could amend the title accordingly. $\endgroup$ – Fiddlesticks Feb 23 '20 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Fiddlesticks thanks for suggestion, done $\endgroup$ – jonathanjo Feb 23 '20 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Where would seaplanes from these bases go as a destination? $\endgroup$ – GdD Feb 23 '20 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Related $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 23 '20 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ There's a problem with that, seaplanes can only be operated in relatively calm sea-states, they need sheltered areas, and even then you'd have plenty of times when they just couldn't be flown. Most seaplanes fly from rivers and lakes, not the ocean, where they do it's with limitations. $\endgroup$ – GdD Feb 23 '20 at 21:22
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Seaplane air taxis only work where the logistics situation and market can support a business case for that kind of service. It's an expensive way to travel, so there has to be some kind of benefit that makes it worth the cost to the traveler.

This works in the Seattle area and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia where you have large city centers with nearby destination locations that require over-water travel to get to, and business travelers willing to pay extra for fast waterfront-to-waterfront travel.

Vancouver BC has a thriving air taxi market because people want to get across to Vancouver Island quickly, especially Victoria BC, the provincial capital, and the business traveler demand supports seaplane operations up to Twin Otter size.

California? Way cheaper to drive, or go taxi-airport-taxi. In Vancouver BC or Seattle, a seaplane air taxi service is competing with ferry boat service so it has a serious leg up that makes the ticket price worthwhile. Not so much down south on a contiguous coastline where there are both land and air alternatives.

So bottom line is, there's no money to be made doing it.

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    $\begingroup$ Respectfully, that appears to be an opinion of the economics. Typical ocean-front properties in that area are $10m+, many of their owners are privacy and comfort sensitive. Given that you could fly directly to their properties, I'm surprised not to see it. Hence my question wasn't about whether it was economic, but whether it was permitted by the various authorities. $\endgroup$ – jonathanjo Feb 23 '20 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ No worries. I inferred that you were wondering why there aren't any air services on the coast, not just the strict legalities. In any case when I was a bush pilot the air service I worked for had a number of very wealthy customers and they were generally surprisingly cheap people lol. $\endgroup$ – John K Feb 23 '20 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @jonathanjo, While you point out you are asking about regulations only, the wonderment you express about why there isn't more seaplane service along the coast naturally provokes answers as to why it would be economically and operational unfeasable. The Pacific Northwest has lots of protected waterways, Zuma beach, not so much... $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Feb 24 '20 at 19:41

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