Catalina aircraft

Catalina Aircraft to build new versions of famous WWII seaplane

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The company has announced its plans to update the famous Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat design to include modern turboprop engines and cockpit displays.

Catalina Aircraft will resurrect the famous Second World War seaplane, as well as create an all-new ‘Catalina II’ model, the Florida-based company has revealed.

The Consolidated Model 28, also known as PBY Catalina, was built in the 1930s and operated by all major Allied military powers during the Second World War. It served as a far-flying maritime patrol plane, long-range torpedo and land attack bomber, mine layer, submarine hunter, search-and-rescue plane, special operations transport and cargo-hauler.

More than 4,000 were built in the US, the Soviet Union and Canada. Only 14 to 17 are said to still remain, with at least seven more being restored to a flyable condition. 

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Catalina Aircraft stated that the company already has a lead customer for its new Catalina and is also seeking pre-orders for the Catalina II.

“Interest in the rebirth of this legendary amphibian has been extraordinary,” said Lawrence Reece, president of Catalina Aircraft. ”The capabilities this modernised iconic platform offers, being capable of performing so many unique missions, and in a variety of market segments, speaks to the heritage of the Catalina product line.

“The NGAA Catalina II is a modern amphibian with advanced engines and avionics and will offer capabilities no other amphibian can provide today. We are looking forward to moving this programme forward rapidly.”

The Catalina II seaplane could cover a wide range of needs, the company said. In military operations, the model would provide great range, cargo capacity, versatility, and, they argue, reduced cost compared with alternatives such as the US-2 seaplane. The model will boast an increased maximum take-off weight of 40,000lbs and be capable of operating in higher wind speeds. 

In contrast, commercial enterprises and government agencies could operate it to provide anti-piracy operations, freight delivery, surveillance, search and rescue, and anti-submarine warfare. 

The commercial variant of Catalina is said to be able to carry up to 34 passengers or 12,000lbs of cargo, with a 32,000lbs maximum take-off weight. 

According to the company, the Catalina II will be the “largest, fastest, longest range, highest payload, and most capable amphibious aircraft available worldwide with Western certifications”. It will reportedly be capable of operating from runways, grass, dirt, lakes, rivers, bays and open water.

The company is reportedly expecting to start turbine-powered flight tests in 2025, with a view towards starting production deliveries from 2029. 

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