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Today we will be looking at a new type of submersible for the underwater exploration enthusiast or just those who are looking to experience something totally different, even a whole new world you could say. DeepFlight is a line of personal submersibles created by Hawkes Ocean Technologies. There are currently three offerings available to choose from. The DeepFlight Super Falcon, Dragon, and Super Falcon S3. These are not designed to be fighter jet level watercraft like the Seabreacher. Instead these watercraft are focused on cruising along and enjoying the moment without disturbing the natural habitat. The DeepFlight submersibles are even driven by electric instead of gas, reducing any harmful output that journey into the depths could have on the environment. As your in a submersible, of course you won't be able to reach out and touch what's there but you will get to see what other wise you wouldn't get a chance to. For those who have dreams of being an astronaut, this is the next best thing!
Video by DeepFlight showcasing the DeepFlight Super Falcon
First we will be taking a look at the DeepFlight Super Falcon. The Super Falcon is outfitted to be a two person personal sub. While a regular submersible works by utilizing ballast to sink down into the water and eventually achieve a level depth once pressure is equalized in the desired way, the Super Falcon operates on completely different principles. The Super Falcon maintains positive buoyancy continuously, not only does this make the craft easier to operate but it is a safety feature in case of the controls failing, a pilot panicking, or a loss of power. The craft is essentially powered down into the water through thrust and angle of the control surfaces. If no thrust is being applied, the craft will begin to surface so you as the pilot won't have to worry about which way was up if you get turned around after too many barrel rolls. The Super Falcon utilizes similar 3-axis flight controls as an aircraft in movement of pitch, yaw and roll, utilizing fly-by-wire technology. It is capable of reaching a cruising speed of 5 knots and reaching a depth of 330 feet underwater and can last for 8 hours of continuous operation before needing to recharge. We're guessing you'll be needing a bathroom break before then.
The Super Falcon is basically like a long flattened cigar with two clear bubble domes on top for you and a passenger to look out upon the scenery as you pass it by. Protecting you from unseen and unknown dangers while exploring. Not all of us can handle coming face to face with a shark or even a jelly fish underwater in only our wetsuits. The pressure within the domes always stays at 1 atmosphere so you never have to worry about getting the bends (decompression sickness) from rising or lowering too quickly as you would if you were scuba diving or if you were in a regular submersible. We will say that regular scuba diving is actually a lot of work and the more you work the faster you use up your oxygen, and the deeper you go the colder you get. This is where the DeepFlight would be a great option to maintain a level of comfort while doing something extraordinary! The Super Falcon is powered by a lithium-iron-phosophate battery pack with a power capacity of 10 kWh. The battery powers a brushless DC drivetrain. The system utilizes 120 to 240 volt AC chargers which charges the battery to 100 percent in 4 hours.
The Super Falcon can hold up to 551 lbs. It comes with adjustable seating with integrated harnesses, and air conditioning so no worries about being too hot or cold while your out and about. Navigation instruments consist of an altimeter, depth gauge and a magnetic compass. The life support systems are comprised of two independent oxygen systems, replaceable soda lime cartridges for carbon dioxide removal, and two independent life support monitors. The emergency life support will last for 72 hours. In the case of needing to rise to the surface and stay buoyant due to any unforeseen issues, there is also included an emergency inflatable lift system. It has an integrated underwater, surface, and internal marine communications system with hand-held backup VHF in the case of necessity. There is an integrated USBL tracking system with backup pinger locator beacon on board. The dimensions of the Super Falcon are: length of 19.35 feet by 8.86 feet wide by 5.3 feet high. Total weight is 3,968 lbs, makes you wonder how it floats. Those darn batteries always heavier than they look! The DeepFlight is a super cool idea but we personally would love for this puppy to go faster, somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 knots. They say life is about the journey, but were still trying to get to our destination sometime soon!
Video by Four Seasons Resort showcasing the DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S being used as part of a tourist destination at the Four Seasons Resort in the Maldives.
Next we are having a look at the DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S which is essentially the Super Falcon but with room enough for a third person. This way the family can see a whole new side of life together, or it could be that a professional pilot takes you all out on a tour to go see something new together without having to worry about knowing exactly what your doing and where your headed. No pressure, just relax and enjoy the moment! This new version is showcased in the video above for the Four Seasons Resort in the Maldives. Pretty much, feature wise everything remains the same other than the fact that the battery capacity has been increased to 14 kWh from 10 kWh and the maximum cruising speed is now 4 knots instead of 5 knots. Of course there is now a third bubble dome, and with it the additions of a third passenger seat and so forth. The overall dimensions have increased to a length of 26.2 ft by 10.8 feet wide by 4.6 feet high. The weight has massively increased to 7,500 lbs but with that comes a carrying capacity of 825 lbs, so no wonder we lost a knot. When boat rides through Venice get old, this is what you need to do to up your game!
What better way to learn about the DeepFlight line of submersibles and what they mean to the future of underwater exploration than to hear from the Graham Hawkes, founder of Hawkes Ocean Technologies in an interview with Stuff.
The final offering we are going to look at from the DeepFlight line is the DeepFlight Dragon. The Dragon is radically different in that it has six propellers instead of two. The four additional propellers are in the vertical orientation allowing the Dragon to hover in place. The Dragon looks more like an F1 race car with its body styling versus the airplane like styling of the Super Falcon's. It even has a rear spoiler. It doesn't have wings though. In our opinion the Dragon looks cooler and more radical. Having the ability to hover and observe instead of constantly staying in motion is just what the doctor ordered. See a school of fish? Wanna watch that school of fish? Yeah, you can do that now!
The Dragon's seating capacity is for two people. It basically keeps all the features of Super Falcon 3S in that its maximum cruising speed is 4 knots, and it has the increased battery capacity of 14 KwH. All the systems mentioned previously on the Super Falcon exist on the Dragon. The dimensions are considerably shorter but it weighs the same as the Super Falcon at 3,968 lbs with a maximum carrying capacity of 551 pounds. It measures 16.4 feet long, by 6.4 feet wide, by 3.6 feet high so if you want to store this on another boat, it will be considerably easier to fit! We also like the color better since the white and red seems to pop more and will be easier to spot in the water.
In depth video on the DeepFlight Dragon by Gizmag
We really love the idea of the DeepFlight submersibles and especially like the direction of the DeepFlight Dragon but we still have that hankering for speed that the DeepFlight is just not delivering right now! 18 Knots anyone?