World’s First Commercial Personal Submarine – DeepFlight Dragon
DeepFlight is a pioneering underwater aviation company and is all set to release a new personal submarine at the 2014 Monaco Yacht show scheduled for next week. It is being said that this submarine is as easy to pilot as a walk in the park and therefore, will result in a new niche in the tourism and rental market. Known as DeepFlight Dragon, the submarine upon its launch will be the most compact, lightweight personal submarine available for purchase. The users will require a minimalistic instruction manual to pilot it.
In words of DeepFlight founder Graham Hawkes; ‘The DeepFlight Dragon came about because I was at a conference for electric aircraft and everyone was enamored with the idea of building a full-sized drone that people could fly easily,” said Hawkes. “It suddenly occurred to me that I could do that underwater, now, and I’d better do it pretty quickly because if I didn’t do it, someone else would. So we put patents in, and the result is the DeepFlight Dragon. The most significant feature of the Dragon is its positive buoyancy. That is, if you lose power, or switch it off, you come back to the surface, as opposed to sinking to the bottom. That’s very different from being in control of a normal submarine or submersible where you open the valves and make it heavy, and you sink. If, as I’m afraid to say happened in one of my dives a long time ago, when a knob came off the valve that controls the air, you keep sinking, and I can tell you, that is not a good feeling. The Dragon is effectively an aircraft. I know we can’t use that name, but it is in fact an aircraft for the water. So all the controls, everything about the Dragon has been designed for ease-of-use. It is so intuitively easy to use for the uninitiated, that I think this will become the first submarine that can go into a rental program, where a resort can rent it by the hour.’
It will cost a little less than $1.5 million and shall come equipped with all the required additional gear that will be crucial for the running of craft. The orders at Monaco Yacht show will be priced at $1.2 million in order to jumpstart the production of this all new series. It will be sold along with a new launch platform that is inflatable.
Hawkes further said; ‘The inflatable launch platform was created because we looked at how the craft would be potentially used with its new capabilities, and one of the primary concerns is safety. We don’t want anybody hurt and one of the difficulties of a small submersible is that they don’t have any freeboard (the distance from the waterline to the deck) and the only way that we could see to ensure the safety of newbies clambering excitedly all over it without anything tipping over, was to put it on a much bigger footprint and to put an inflatable platform underneath it that lifts it out of the water, so that’s what we’re doing.’
Hawkes believes in a future that will belong to underwater aviation industry, however, he also understands that the timeline for that will take its own course. He said; ‘We are in the process of opening up the field of underwater aviation but the time schedule is indeterminate right now. It may not have the same utility that the original aviation industry did 100 years ago, but it has some of the same characteristics, and it’s not like there’s any shortage of uncharted territory out there to explore. Oceans make up two thirds of the world’s surface, so I’m quite not sure why we choose to call it planet ‘Earth’. If we look back, there are some illustrative similarities between where we’re at now and in those early years of aviation. Those early guys were in love with what they were doing, just as we are, but they weren’t entirely sure how things would unfold and what the full benefits of their work would be.’
The DeepFlight Dragon has been designed for easy use whether it be from yacht or shore and can carry out exploration up to a depth of 120 meters while weighing 1,800 kg and measuring 1.5 meters in height. It is positively buoyant – implying that it automatically floats to the surface.
MAXIMUM SPEED: 4 knots
OPERATING DEPTH: 120m
CREW CONFIGURATION: 2-seat
DRY WEIGHT: 1,800 kg
PAYLOAD: 250 kg