A UK aviation company is searching for financing to continue work on a six-seat light amphibious aircraft which it has under development. Warrior (Aero Marine) claims that its Centaur composite aircraft offers better performance and reduced costs compared with those of rival seaplane designs.

Warrior has flown the first of two one-fifth scale models and plans to build four test aircraft at the Chichester Miles Consultants factory in Salisbury, UK. It is now seeking funding of about £15 million ($24 million) to take the aircraft through certification, "-and about 10 production aircraft out of the door."

The Lymington-based firm believes that, with adequate funding, it could have the four test aircraft flying by about the end of 2002.

The Centaur features a new hull design, inspired by the slender-hulled high performance yachts and ferries. "Hulls have doubled the speed of fast ferries in the last 15 years. Why can't they be enjoyed by a seaplane?" asks Centaur designer James Labouchere. The Centaur hull design, he says, results in high speeds in displacement mode and does not encounter a drag hump as it starts to plane.

"This results in a hull with substantial reductions in hydrodynamic shock-loading and structural weight and drag, and allows operation in 80% rougher water than equivalent seaplanes," he adds.

Warrior maintains that its composite design will provide the Centaur with between 20% and 60% higher power-to-weight ratio than equivalent commercial seaplanes. The aircraft, planned to be powered by either a Teledyne Continental IO-550 or a Textron Lycoming IO-540, also has a folding wing, which will allow it to access "-most marinas and more than five times as many coastal sites than current seaplanes".

The company says that seaplane design has resulted in current aircraft on the market having restricted payload range, poor access to waterside sites like marinas, poor wave handling and an intolerance to salt water corrosion.

Source: Flight International