The Pelagor is an amphibious aircraft concept envisioned to ferry 40-foot-long intermodal containers to islands and remote locations. It would be capable of landing on short airstrips or water and would use the ground effect to save fuel.
Over the last few years, I have worked with various industrial designers on different aircraft concepts. One of those designers is Ray Mattison, from Duluth, Minnesota, with whom I created the Skreemr supersonic aircraft concept. This time, instead of creating an ultrafast jet, we tried to figure out how to lift a really heavy load and ship stuff rapidly in locations where there are no airstrips. Hence the Pelagor, whose name is a variation of the ancient Greek word “Pelagos”, meaning “sea”.
How It Works
The Pelagor would use a distributed propulsion system composed of a set of batteries and a jet turbine. This combination of electric power pack and fuel turbine would provide the necessary energy for take-off, since this is the portion of the flight which requires the largest amount of power.
The turbine would use a recuperated bryton cycle with blades made out of aluminium oxide able to withstand 1850 kelvin heat. Note that the jet turbine intake is not apparent in the design rendering, but it would most probably be positioned in the bulkhead/upper fuselage.
The batteries would power forty (40) electric propellers, which could be positioned in one of three places: on the leading edge of the wing (not shown), similar to NASA’s LEAPtech prototype; between two expandable wings (shown), or between the flaps and the wing. Of course the drag, lift, complexity, cost, efficiency, and autonomy will have to dictate the optimal design.
Would it make sense to use the power of a jet turbine to propel a ground effect vehicle/aircraft and recharge its batteries between take-off and landing? Could such an aircraft transport a 40-foot intermodal container rapidly? And efficiently?
Ideally, a new generation of light & watertight containers made of ultra-strong composite materials should be developed to reduce the total weight of the cargo. These intermodal containers would have the same external dimensions and features as existing shipping containers, designed with logistics in mind, so they could be used on ships, trains, and with the Pelagor.
A single 40-foot container could be loaded under the body. The Pelagor would pull the container inside its cargo hold with a hydraulic winch. This way, in the unlikely event of the aircraft needing to shed some weight rapidly, the container could be jettisoned without loss of the craft. Since it would be watertight, the container would float, so both the container and the goods inside could be salvaged. (Inflatable side bags could be added to the container to help it float).
What It’s Used For
The Pelagor could be used to transport equipment & supplies to any island and even remote places of Africa or the Canadian Artic where there is no airport or infrastructure. It could be used as a disaster relief vehicle or even be fitted to transport cars, trucks and utility vehicles. As always, your ideas and comments to improve this concept are welcome!
I would like to thank Ray Mattison from Design Eye-Q who created the renderings of the Seatrik concept. Ray is based near Duluth, Minnesota, USA. He studied at the College for Creative Studies, and he has worked for Cirrus Aircraft and Exodus Machines. Ray also created the images of the Skreemr supersonic aircraft and the Seatrick snowmobile / personal watercraft hybrid.