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The Privateer looks to redefine amphibious plane design

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August 6, 2010

Privateer model on display at AirVenture 2010

Privateer model on display at AirVenture 2010

Image Gallery (10 images)

Billed as the "first new Amphibian design in 60 years," the Privateer incorporates lightweight carbon fiber composite construction, a shrouded rear-mounted propeller, unique float layout and a lower center of gravity with the aim of optimizing safety for both water and land operations. Created by aviation enthusiast and entrepreneur John A. Meekins along with partner and aircraft engineer Bill Husa, we spied the design on show at AirVenture 2010. A prototype is currently under construction and it's expected to be in the air next year.

The Privateer's fuselage sits between two needle-like sponsons which curve upward in the rear to form a twin tail, while the straight, stiff wings are designed to provide a comfortable ride with exceptional fatigue life. This layout delivers a lower center of gravity and improved handling characteristics as the plane moves through rough water, reducing the chance of flip over.

The Privateer looks to redefine amphibious plane design

The choice of carbon fiber composite construction provides a platform that's not only lighter than aluminum, but also stronger than steel and corrosion proof.

The roomy, cockpit/cabin carries one pilot and five or six passengers (depending how many can be squeezed across the aft bench seat), and the designers say the scaleable configuration will allow for variants in different sizes to be made.

The Privateer’s power plant configuration is also novel – a 724 hp Walter 601 series turbine engine drives the propeller which is shrouded to increase efficiency while reducing ambient noise. The design is a deliberate attempt to minimize the aircraft's operational impact around populated and sensitive wildlife areas.

When there's no water around, the plane can conduct land based taxiing and takeoff via tricycle landing gear that folds up into the fuselage.

All this comes in package that weighs just 3,600 pounds unloaded, and provides a 195 knot cruising speed, 1,000 mile range and 25,000 foot altitude, when loaded.

Privateer specifications and projected performance

  • Maximum Cruise Speed: Sea Level - 195 knots, 15,000 ft. - 215 knots
  • Service Ceiling: 25,000 feet (estimated)
  • Rate of Climb: Sea Level - 2,100 fpmv
  • Range Performance: Goal is 1,000 mi. however actual range will 
depend on final fuel tank configuration
  • Takeoff & Landing Performance: Water - 1,200 ft. (estimated), Land - 960 ft.
  • Empty Weight: 3,600 pounds (prototype – production will be lighter)
  • Gross Weight: 5,600 pounds
  • Useful Load: 2,000 pounds
  • Wing Loading: 19.8 psf
  • Height on Wheels: 12.3 feet
  • Length – Nose to Tail: 43.0 feet
  • Wing Span: 42.9 feet
  • Cabin Height: 4.4 feet (net internal)
  • Power Plant: Walter 601 Turbine
724 SHP / 657 SHP continuous

Via: Privateer Industries

10 Comments

I really do like this design BUT from all I've been able to research a shrouded propeller actually causes more drag than any thrust efficiency it was meant to over come.

mrhuckfin
6th August, 2010 @ 07:47 pm PDT

The shroud - from some angles looks really good - distinctive and all that.

But from the rear it looks shit.

I'd be very inclined to dump that.

The rest of it is brilliant.

Mr Stiffy
8th August, 2010 @ 05:56 pm PDT

A very ambishious concept, I love it! One question comes to mind: "How do you repair damaged carbon fiber?" Would they need to replace entire sections or patch it up by "bolting" down another smaller piece?

Nemanja Sedoglavic
8th August, 2010 @ 07:01 pm PDT

I would have to give it an A for appearance and an F for practical performance. A 4 blade prop is less efficient then a 2 blade. The 2 long pontoons still have a lot of water surface area. The volume takes away from usable space. It still has a step which causes drag. A pusher prop does not meet virgin air. I see a lot of drag with little return value. These are some of the things I noticed. But it shows someone is thinking.

Our amphibious sail plane should ready to start testing by weeks end. We have solved all of these issues I just mentioned and many more.

donwine
9th August, 2010 @ 07:56 am PDT

The problem with claiming a design is "The first new design in years" is that you're usually wrong.

First, it's possible someone HAS come up with a new design while you haven't been looking:

Seawind:

http://www.seawind.net/

Or, it's more likely that you're rehashing someone else's idea.

Creative Flight Aerocat

http://www.creativeflight.com/

Both are already flying.

Also note that to get the 1000mi range with the specs listed above, you'll need 1500 lbs of fuel - which leaves you less than 500lbs of payload when the tanks are full. I'm not sure how that meets their claim of "1,000 miles at Max Gross Weight, including a full passenger load" (from the web site.)

Just sayin'.

(No, the Aerocat doesn't have the ducted fan - and neither will the privateer when they're done flight testing - if it ever gets that far.)

jim
9th August, 2010 @ 09:03 am PDT

Anyone have any idea as to the anticipated price?

Lawrence Weisdorn
9th August, 2010 @ 09:53 am PDT

Way too big a plane with too much wetted, aero surface creating too much drag and would be hard to build it in the weight they say for 6 passnegers.

If I was doing it I'd make the cabin wider, the pontoons below it as as they are now, will throw tons of water into the prop. Or go to a Catalina PBY or SeaBee style hull.

I'd also go to a piston or turbine engine of 50% of the power as you could cut length by 33%, weight 50% by doing a more compact design.

I have no problem with the prop shroud as for Seaplanes especially, they are worth it.

And I have news for them, CF can corrode and very hard to work with!!

jerryd
9th August, 2010 @ 11:26 am PDT

High wing floatplanes are better - wings will clear a dock more easily, plus you can just step out onto the floats. Shorten the wings a bit and this would make a lovely ekranoplan, much easier to bring to market than a certified airplane too.

PeetEngineer
10th August, 2010 @ 05:03 pm PDT

The design of structural components to secure balancing while landing and taking off from water is quite unique. The question is how these changes in design, tail, location of engine impact on the rate of climb while flying through complex thunderstorms.

S P S Sabharwal
11th August, 2010 @ 12:39 am PDT

CF repair is much like fiber glass repair only it involves more effort (vacuum bagging etc.) to get a good repair.

3,4,5,6, or more blades give more pulses of thrust for a given area, the diameter of the prop becomes an issue for two reasons on this aircraft, you want to keep it out of the water, and you don't want the tips breaking the sound barrier as that just makes noise and causes vibration. Check out the prop blades on a Piaggio Avanti, they are very short to keep the tip speed down. More blades also gives better power for climbing and take off, a bigger concern for a water plane than a land plane, in cruise flight two blades is better, but more blades will get you off the water faster.

The step is something discovered by the pioneers like the Wrights and Curtis, you need to get the aircraft up planing on the step to reduce the drag and shorten the take off run, at slow speed it does give drag, but this isn't a motor boat.

Ducted fans are more efficient and way quieter, every modern jet aircraft uses one, look at any modern airliner and you are looking at a ducted fan.

the two issues I see will be water on the fan and the problems with docking a low wing ( both already stated) of course the lake amphib, and the seawind are low wing, so it isn't a show stopper.

Facebook User
26th September, 2010 @ 05:09 am PDT
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