Salisbury-based Centaur Seaplane began life nine years ago as Warrior (Aero-Marine), the brainchild of Labouchere, now 40, who saw potential opportunities to adapt technological advances in hull design and composite materials, well tested in yachts, to design and make aircraft specifically for amphibious operations. Hoodless Brennan is broker and accountant Grant Thornton nominated adviser to Centaur, which wants the money to complete the demonstration prototype of the Centaur 6, its first full-size amphibious six-seat aircraft.
Centaur, whose European patent is mortgaged to the town of Sanford in the USA for £145,000, sees the Centaur 6 as the first in a range of manned and unmanned amphibious planes. Labouchere and his colleagues argue that Centaur’s technology can resolve all the chief problems that caused seaplane interest to wane after the 1940s.
These included the need to handle waves, corrosion of aircraft-grade aluminium by salt water, the difficulty of carrying a commercial payload and the inability to access dockside facilities due to a fixed wing span. If these problems can be overcome, the company cites estimates from the US SRI research institute of a potential world market of £1.2 billion.
With net debt of £919,000 and losses cut from 2003’s £909,000 to £186,000 in the first nine months of 2004, Centaur sees several key markets sectors where the Centaur 6, at £310,000, could offer ‘significant operating cost advantages’. These are: private transport, utilities, taxis and leisure, sports and training, defence and public services, developing and maritime countries and unmanned aerial vehicles.