Have dosh, will fly

Funding from the UK DTI and the Maine Technology Institute means that a new amphibious aircraft called the Centaur will actually get to fly.

Funding from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) and the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been given to Warrior (Aero-Marine) and its wholly owned US subsidiary, Warrior (Aero-Marine), for the development of a prototype amphibious aircraft called the Centaur.

MTI has awarded a $500,000 Development Award to Warrior (Aero-Marine). The award will be used to expand Maine’s composite sector and draw upon the expertise of the composite lab at the University of Maine, Orono.

The DTI Smart Exceptional Award is for £450,000. In addition, private investors have demonstrated their faith in the programme by committing a further $2.9 million in cash and services, giving the Warrior programme nearly $4.0 million to build the first aircraft. The recent funding will allow Warrior to move forward with its 2003 flight demonstration efforts.

The Centaur is a six-seat, single piston engine aircraft designed with hull geometry that has been derived from the world of multi-hull racing yachts, enabling the aircraft to operate with much lower engine power than other seaplanes and to operate smoothly in 80 percent rougher water. The boat handling concepts, which include folding wing capability, enable the aircraft to manoeuvre on water just like a 40-foot boat, accessing berthing facilities that are denied to all other seaplanes. Its all-composite structure allows it to operate on salt water without fear of corrosion, unlike conventional aluminium seaplanes.

Successful test programs have already been completed using dynamically accurate fifth-scale models. Warrior is now confirming the aircraft’s detailed design using CATIA software.

Warrior has placed its first contracts for fuselage, wing tooling and other structural component development with Maine Composites of Richmond, ME. These components will then be shipped to the UK for final assembly by Warrior at the certification facilities of CMC, Salisbury, UK. The maiden flight of the Centaur will take place in Salisbury in the first quarter of next year.

James Labouchere, Managing Director of Warrior and the Centaur creator said, ‘Centaur is now a go programme thanks to these two awards and the faith of our private investors. This funding enables us to produce and demonstrate the prototype. We do need further funds to market the Centaur, the business opportunity, as well as to complete the Certification programme.’

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