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SubAviator Fast Sub-Plane
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - Janice Karin
SubAviator Systems has designed a new two seater submarine designed for advanced marine exploration. Made from a lightweight composite and designed like an underwater airplane complete with wings, the SAS Aviator submarine uses electric power to travel up to 5.2 knots and descend up to 1,000 feet deep in sea water. The Aviator can make up to four one hour training dives in a single day or stay underwater for up to five hours at a time on a single longer mission.
The dual cockpit craft can be operated from either seat using standard military aircraft controls including a joystick to control pitch and roll, rudder pedals, power sequencers, and thrust controls. The submarine can also operate under more traditional soft buoyancy and weight systems while at rest or below the threshold speed of 1.2 knots.
The Aviator is 22 feet long and 12.2 feet wide (5.3 feet with the wings folded). It weights 4900 pounds, including removable battery packs but no passengers, and supports both lead acid or silver zinc battery packs (with the potential to support additional, higher performance batteries in the future). The submarine can descend at a rate of up to 320 feet per minute and ascend at a rate of up to 600 feet per minute.
The Aviator is designed to be both faster and more maneuverable than conventional submarines. It's also designed to improve crew comfort by providing full recumbent seating rather than uncomfortable perches often found in other submarines. Safety is also an important consideration. The submarine includes a system of emergency air ballast bags with enough buoyancy to lift the submarine to the surface and the stability to safely float the craft upright once there. In addition, the seats use a full five point harness like those typically used in race cars.
Although the submarine can be controlled from either seat, it is also ideal for general usage by scientists, filmmakers, explorers, and others not trained in military aircraft controls. A traditional pilot and passenger configuration permits the second inhabitant to engage in research or observation without worrying about flying the craft. For those curious to experience it, Incredible Adventures offers tourists the chance to enjoy a trip in the SAS Aviator. Tours currently operate out of Port Lucaya (Freeport) on Grand Bahama Island, a frequent stop for Caribbean cruise ships.
TFOT has previously reported on other innovative submarines including the Hyper-Sub powerboat capable of operating as either a surface boat or a submarine, the small two man Triton 1000 personal submarine, the sQuba car that turns into a submersible, and the unmanned Airacuda capable of diving and rising much like a traditional submarine.
SubAviator Systems has a detailed description of the SAS Aviator submarine and its design goals on their website. You can also find a list of technical specifications elsewhere on their website. “Incredible Adventures” also has extensive information about their Aviator tours in the Bahamas on their website.