The Concept

The Subplane is a military seaplane concept that would be able to land on water close to a shoreline. It would be able to seal off its jet engine and submerge itself to stay hidden underwater until its occupant returned. It could be used to accomplish delicate military missions. On the renderings, one major aircraft part is missing. It was left out on purpose to get your attention. If you figure out what it is, send me me your own concept idea and it might get published here!


The Background

This concept actually came from one of my sons. I asked him if he had an idea for a cool vehicle, and this is about what he described to me, so I thought, « why not? » Seaplanes of that size already exist. The really difficult parts would be to seal off the whole aircraft tightly and also to find a way to sink the plane with water ballasts to prevent damage from the waves or currents. Seems easy, right?


How it Works

The Subplane works like a regular seaplane (See the Icon Aircaft). Instead of a propeller, I thought about using a small jet turbine that could be integrated into the upper tail section over and slightly behind the cockpit. When the pilot would start the procedure to submerge the plane, the turbine air intake and exhaust would need to be sealed off with electric flap doors or some other reliable mechanism.

An anchor could be deployed from the hull to secure the plane on the sea floor. A ballast located inside the aircraft, including the cockpit, would fill up with seawater, and thus sink the plane at a predetermined level. If the sea floor was soft sand, it could rest there while awaiting further instructions. Of course, the longer the plane was submerged, the harder it would be to keep the plane operational. It would certainly be a huge challenge to develop a concept that could accomplish this, and it would prove very difficult to make this concept reliable and at a reasonable unit cost.

While we were at it, we added electric thrusters that would slide out of the fuselage and provide underwater mobility. This feature could be added eventually if the basic submarine function of the aircraft worked properly. We also added a periscope to the Subplane to record outside activities and relay the video feed to the pilot (while he is away) and the tactical mission control center.


The Designer

The subplane’s images were created by Jan Metelka, who is based in the Czech Republic. Jan studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Jan also created the images for the FireQuad concept.