CENTAUR CONCEPT: CAPABILITIES
The major advantages provided by the Centaur concept over existing seaplanes are typically:
1. Access to about FIVE TIMES as many coastal facilities
The wings can be folded to within the beam of the sponsons. Using a
water-thruster it can be steered accurately, safely and quietly amongst
other boats on to confined docks or into marina berths.
2. Operations in typically twice as large waves
Both a smooth ride in extreme waves and forgiving water handling qualities arise
from the Centaur concept's new hull forms.
3. Exceptionally high load capacity and payload range
New levels of hull efficiency combined with high aerodynamic lift and
reduced engineering content in the hull, together enable substantially
greater useful load capacity and typically 60% to 100% greater
range-with-payload in relation to similarly powered aircraft.
4. Exceptional volume and superb on-water platform
The central cabin has a large and versatile internal volume. The stub-wings
provide for easy cabin access for passengers and cargo, and a platform for all
manner of on-water functions for work and recreation.
5. Exceptional safety
The Centaur concept's safety advantages include:
- Greater safety margins incommon wave conditions and survivability in extreme waves
- Forgiving control response for ease of safe handling
- Reduced cockpit and cabin accelerations
- Stability in crash cases including impacting submerged objects
- Cabin that will not submerge in almost any water crash configuration
- Correct pitching tendencies in the air
- Very safe characteristics for forced landing on surfaces including sand, ploughed field, swamp etc.
- High level of protection in a land crash due to disposable structure forward and below cockpit.
These are significant life-saving advantages over both seaplanes and landplanes
6. Lower operating costs
Major cost savings in relation to conventional seaplanes are expected from:
- Low direct costs. The large load capacity of the Centaur concept for given power
enables it to achieve most tasks with less than conventional
- Low indirect costs. Major reductions in preventative and cyclical maintenance
are expected as a result of the use of composite materials, especially when operating in
salt water. With wings folded significant reductions in berthing/mooring/hangarage costs
can be expected.
- Long airframe life. The Centaur's composite airframe
is anticipated to last at least four times as long as
equivalent aluminium airframes in salt water between major
- Lower insurance premiums. Favourable insurance premiums are expected as a
result of the Centaur concept's anticipated lower incident rates arising from greater tolerance
to waves and forgiving characteristics.
- Spreading overheads. Offering a more competitive service in existing applications,
and enabling operations in a wider range of conditions and to a wide range of new destinations,
the Centaur concept will tend to be used more than conventional seaplanes. Overheads will tend to be
spread over more hours, reducing rates further.
These advantages are expected to increase the competitiveness of fresh-water seaplane
operators by at least 20 percent, and 40 percent where longer haul operations are concerned.
On tropical salt-water, life-cycled costs-per-seat-mile are expected to be in the order of half
those encountered by operators of existing seaplanes.