The Privateer looks to redefine amphibious plane design
By Mike Perry
August 6, 2010
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 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