FAQ: DeepFlight Submarines

DeepFlight Technology

DeepFlight Safety

Maintaining and Operating DeepFlight Submarines

Launch, Recovery and Transport

DeepFlight Technology

How are DeepFlight submarines different from conventional submarines?

DeepFlight submarines are unique in design and capability. Conventional submarines dive by using a variable ballast system that allows water to flood into tanks. Essentially, they get heavy and sink. DeepFlight submarines, on the other hand, all have fixed positive buoyancy and never sink. Instead, they utilize one of two patented methods to dive: the Super Falcon uses thrust and lift, while the Dragon leverages vertical thrust. The DeepFlight experience is something no traditional submarine is capable of offering.

What is the significance of underwater flight?

Underwater flight gives you the range and speed you need to truly explore the underwater wilderness in three dimensions, while keeping pace with whales, dolphins, and the other creatures of the sea. From an experiential point of view, DeepFlight Super Falcon can safely and easily do rolls, flips, and banks just like a jet, but underwater. Why sink when you can fly?

How fast do DeepFlight submarines fly underwater?

DeepFlight submarines are designed to fly alongside marine mammals, and owners have been able to have unique interactions with dolphins, manta rays, sharks and whales. Maximum cruising speed is between 4-6 knots.

What is the depth range for a DeepFlight submarine?

We rate the depth limit to the “edge of darkness”, or 100m (320 feet), where all natural light disappears.

How are DeepFlight submarines powered?

DeepFlight submarines are all electric, and are powered by Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries.

How long does it take to recharge the battery?

DeepFlight batteries can be recharged to full in four hours.

What if I want to see something right below me?

Visibility is a key component of the DeepFlight experience, and our 360 degree hemispherical canopies provide unparalleled viewing. Since DeepFlight submarines fly underwater, to see something immediately below, just fly low and drop your wing!

How comfortable are DeepFlight submarines?

A conventional submarine’s geometry can be somewhat confining, and carries with it the potential for pressure points around your feet and head. DeepFlight submarines, on the other hand, are specifically designed to fit the human figure.

DeepFlight Safety

Are DeepFlight submarines safe?

Unlike conventional submarines, DeepFlight submarines have fixed positive buoyancy. Under virtually any circumstance, if power is interrupted or turned off, our submarines will float back to the surface. DeepFlight pressure hulls are composed of composite materials that are significantly stronger and lighter than traditional steel hulls. Our composite pressure hulls are composed of 21st century materials that are incorporated in everything from NASA space ships to the most sophisticated commercial airliners. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner uses composite material as its #1 building material. These lightweight pressure hulls allow us to design to a factor of safety more than 50% higher than the industry norm. Each individual hull is proof-tested and approved by a third-party expert.

How much oxygen is supplied in a DeepFlight submarine?

DeepFlight submarines store supplies of oxygen and are equipped with CO2 filtration systems that enable up to 24 hours of life support. Such large capacity is added as a precautionary measure – we never anticipate needing it since each craft is inherently designed to float.

What happens if a DeepFlight submarine loses power?

In the unlikely event of power loss, a DeepFlight will “stall” and immediately begin a natural glide back to the surface. The internal life support system has a separate backup battery that ensures a continued flow of oxygen and CO2 filtration regardless of the operational status of the craft.

What about “the bends”? Will DeepFlight submarines be affected by ocean pressure?

In a DeepFlight submarine you are kept safe inside a pressure hull, and do not experience any effects of external pressure. Your cockpit is carefully monitored and kept at 1 atmosphere of pressure throughout the duration of your dive.

Can I communicate with the surface from underwater?

Yes, each DeepFlight submarine comes standard with a UQC underwater communication unit. It operates just as any two-way radio would. Operators also have a normal marine-grade VHF radio for surface-to-surface communication.

Can I get myself out in an emergency?

Yes. Each submarine is equipped with inflatable surface flotation bags, which essentially turn the submarine into a life raft. From inside the cockpit while on the surface, just actuate a hydraulic piston that releases the catch on the dome. Push up, and climb out.

Are DeepFlight submarines classed by third-party classification societies?

DeepFlight designs and builds our submarines to meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Each DeepFlight submarine is certified by Lloyd’s Register,  a leading marine classification society.

Maintaining and Operating DeepFlight Submarines

How long is the training, and do I need a license to use a DeepFlight submarine?

With the purchase of a DeepFlight submarine, a 7-day integration and training course is provided, which covers piloting, integration, and maintenance in depth, at the location of your choosing. The course has been developed over many years, and includes input from expert pilots, marine engineers, and submariners. In the US, as well as most other flag states, there is no government-mandated license for private operation of a DeepFlight submarine.

Can I fly a DeepFlight submarine myself, or will I need a professional pilot to fly it for me?

Yes, DeepFlight Dragon and DeepFlight Super Falcon were designed so that owners could pilot their own submarines. DeepFlight trains all owners and any designated crew on how to operate and maintain their DeepFlight submarines. DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S was designed for tourism operations, and will be operated by a Pilot in Command with two guest passengers.

I don’t own a superyacht, but want to own a DeepFlight Submarine – is that possible?

Because of their light weight, long range and high speed, DeepFlight submarines are uniquely able to launch from shore and fly out to dive sites under their own power. Some of our clients routinely launch their DeepFlight submarines off of a boat ramp with a boat trailer, or off the beach with a custom crawler. The addition of a towable Launch and Recovery Dock further extends the effective range of the sub, allowing you to tow the sub to dive sites many kilometers away from your launch location.

What kind of support gear do I need in order to operate a DeepFlight submarine?

You will need access to five easily accessible items in order to operate your DeepFlight submarine: 1) aviation-grade oxygen, 2) sofnolime carbon dioxide scrubber material, 3) compressed air, 4) a 120-240V AC power source, and 5) ice. These items are easy to acquire, and we will walk you through how and where to purchase them.

How simple are DeepFlight submarines to maintain?

DeepFlight subs are designed specifically to require a minimal amount of maintenance, potentially even less than a normal tender boat would need. Adhering to the following simple tasks will help ensure your sub’s safe operation for years to come:

  1. Freshwater rinse – thoroughly rinsing the sub to prevent salt build-up and flush debris out of the fuselage after a day of diving is the best thing you can do to preserve the long-term integrity of the sub.
  2. Battery recharge – charging up your batteries overnight, even if its just a short top-up, will help to keep your battery system healthy.
  3. Scrubber recharge – Scrubbers are what filter the carbon dioxide out of the cockpit during a dive, and are a critical component of the life support system. Replacing used filter material is an easy but important step in the daily maintenance routine.

What are the annual costs to maintain a DeepFlight submarine?

Costs to maintain and operate your DeepFlight submarine are dependent on the number of dives per week, month or year that you take. At the high end of 2 to 4 dives per day, the costs are less than $15,000 USD per year.

Do you offer an extended warranty and service package?

For long-term maintenance, we offer a number of levels of continuing service that include an annual inspection of all systems on your sub by qualified DeepFlight personnel.

Launch, Recovery and Transport

Does DeepFlight provide a platform for their submarines to operate from?

Yes, DeepFlight will provide an integrated launch, recovery, and transport system for your sub, tailored to each customer’s base of operation.

This includes a standard Launch and Recovery Dock (LRD) or a submarine trailer customized for each customer.

What is an LRD?

  • The LRD is a robust, safe, and easy way of loading pilots and passengers in and out of the submarine while the sub is in the water.
  • The sub always sits on top of its LRD for transport, storage, and while onboard its mother ship. Its inflatable pontoons provide excellent shock absorption and protection.
  • The LRD gets picked up by the tender crane or an overhead dock crane, and put into the water without pilots. The crew can then attach the LRD  to the yacht’s swim platform, tie it to a fender, or tow it to a remote location and attach it to a RIB or other tender.
  • Pilots and passengers can now easy and safely load into the submarine due to the high freeboard and stability provided by the LRD. Even if a rogue wave were to flood the entire cockpit, the LRD would provide enough positive buoyancy to keep the submarine safe and well supported.
  • To launch the sub, the external crew simply partially deflates the LRD, lowering the entire platform into the water, and allowing the sub to float off. The LRD remains in its partially deflated state until the sub returns, upon which time the crew inflates the LRD with a SCUBA bottle or other compressed air source, lifting it out of the water.