Privateer's™ first flight! - August 6th, 2018
The first new amphibian design in over 60 years!
Privateer™ in flight!
Privateer's™ first flight! - August 6th, 2018
is a revolutionary new amphibian being developed by John A. Meekins, an entrepreneur whose dream is to improve the standards of safety of water-based aircraft.
In addition to being an Industrial Real Estate developer, Pilot, Entrepreneur and Inventor, John Meekins wanted to purchase a seaplane that he could safely use to carry his family and friends to and from his waterfront property. After test flying several seaplanes, John decided they each had their own safety or performance issues. John wanted to have a proof of concept prototype built but needed to find someone to build it.
John came across Bill Husa, a retired Boeing Configuration and Structures Engineer who was looking to build a custom aircraft. After a 2-hour conference call with Bill, John was so impressed that he retained Bill for the prototype.
Bill and John worked together to design Privateer™, resulting in the amphibian aircraft you see today.
The innovative design of the Privateer™ was developed to be the safest design possible for water and land operations. The configuration is characterized by a low center of gravity, thus reducing the chance of flipping over in adverse conditions. Privateer™ has a unique hull layout that will provide unparalleled ease of operation during water-borne take-off and landings.
As the Privateer™ prototype is nearing completion, we are confident that the aircraft will meet or exceed design goals.
John Meekins, President
Privateer Industries LLC
Updates from the President
August 14, 2022
After approximately 14 years of effort, the PRIVATEER™ amphibian, a six to seven passenger aircraft, has been completed and is prepared to finalize flight testing (currently 27.5 hours).
The PRIVATEER™ was designed and built by retired Boeing engineer Bill Husa, with hulls designed by Robert Gornstein, a Hydrostatics Engineer having prior experience with the first Hawaii high-speed ferry;
PRIVATEER™ is the safest water-borne aircraft in existence and also the fastest in its class. The first water landings should occur this week, at Leesburg International Airport (KLEE), in Florida.
This website will be updated with the exact flight schedules once they have been finalized.
I will be there.
March 30, 2020
The PRIVATEER™ amphibian was designed by Boeing engineer Bill Husa and marine engineer Robert Gornstein (Both deceased).
Bill worked on the US Space Shuttle landing gear, among other high-level projects.
Robert worked to develop the first high-speed ferry used in Hawaii and designed the hulls for the PRIVATEER™.
PRIVATEER™ was built by Bill Husa at Snohomish, WA, using top engineering firms in the Seattle area, as follows:
David Lednicer - Structural Analysis
Breedt Production Tooling & Design (Andries Breedt) - Structural & Landing Gear
AVL Machine Works - Structural
Janicki Corp. - Carbon Fiber Moulds & Forms
Park Corp. - Autoclave
Stoddard - Canopy
Walter - 601 Turbine Engine
Before completion by Breedt Production Tooling & Design, Bill died. The amphibian was then rail shipped to Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, FL (TIX).
Engineering firms used prior to first flight were:
MT Propellers - Propeller
Diemech - Propeller Install & Adjust
Turbine Power Technologies - Install Walter 601 FCU (Fuel Control Unit)
Sebastian Communications - Electronics & Control Panel
Prior to first flight, work was completed by Top Flight Services, LLC, using "Accepted Methods & Practices" manual in accordance with advisory circular AC 43-13.
The first flight of the PRIVATEER™ amphibian aircraft, Registration Number 327JM occurred on August 6, 2018, at Titusville Regional Airport (TIX). The First Takeoff video is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctVGvqTFF7w.
Special thanks to Michael Powell and his staff for integrating our initial flight programs into TIX flight operations during this critical period.
Test pilot Harvey Cleveland reported better flight characteristics than expected during initial testing at Titusville.
PRIVATEER™ was flown to Melbourne International (MLB) where final "wheels down" testing was completed after 27.5 hours of flight time.
The same day (March 6, 2019) that both "wheels up" and water landings were to have started at Leesburg International (LEE), 327JM experienced a "hard landing". We were the second aircraft to lose its undercarriage due to a 15 -25 knot cross wind that day.
While the first aircraft, a Twin Piper, suffered severe damage and may have been totaled, we were quickly restored to flight readiness (minus landing gear) after six weeks of repairs to compensate for "runway road rash".
Andries Breedt, owner and lead engineer for Breedt Production Tooling & Design, personally oversaw manufacture of new landing gear for us and we were again ready for flight testing.
Please note that, while we lost about six months of flight testing, we proved that PRIVATEER™ can land on snow or grass in a "wheels up" configuration, making us the safest amphibian yet.
Our Designated Airworthiness Representative, Jim Janicki, was removed by Orlando FAA and we began a search for his replacement.
The Orlando MIDO indicated that we never should have been allowed to fly because of registration problems and other, unspecified, considerations.
After a request from the FAA folks at Oklahoma, we sent them a picture of the registration plate on the PRIVATEER™ aircraft and they quickly sent us a new registration certificate for 327JM, Serial Number 1111, solving that problem.
FAA Orlando has decided to function independent of a DAR and control further testing of our aircraft "in house".
At their request, we submitted a maintenance manual for PRIVATEER™ on November 14, 2019 by UPS, and again on February 26, 2020, by hand delivery.
Other than a disclaimer by FAA Orlando (see attached), we have received no response from FAA Orlando to date.
January 22, 2020
It has been a while and much has happened to relate.
Kudos to Jim Janicki, Vice President of Quality at LAUNCH Technical Workforce Solutions, for arranging an airworthiness certificate which has allowed us to get 27.5 hours of flight time for Privateer™. I should note that Privateer™ has performed better than expected in a number of areas.
Thanks also to the Oklahoma FAA who sent us an updated registration after we sent them a photo of the registration plate on the Privateer™ aircraft.
Rob added a rebuilt Fuel Control Unit, at considerable expense, in an effort to improve engine characteristics and resume testing of Privateer™ prior to expiration of the initial airworthiness certificate on October 4, 2019.
We are fortunate to add Dave Jobe, Aviation Industry Consultant, Principal and Owner at ACCS, LLC, to our team as a consultant. Dave has experience with the U.S. Air Force as a jet engine mechanic and aircraft crew chief. He was a "hands on guy" at Boeing overseeing mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and flight control on pneumatic systems. He spent eight years as an FAA aviation safety inspector at the Kansas City MIDO.
The Orlando MIDO has opted to work with us directly, independent of a DAR. We have submitted all paperwork which they requested in order to continue flight testing of the Privateer™ aircraft. Clem Figueroa, Senior Aviation Safety Inspector, and Rick Piper, Aviation Safety Inspector, of the Orlando MIDO have visited the Privateer™ aircraft at our hangar at Melbourne (MLB) Rob and Dave are working with the FAA MIDO and will supply them with what they need for us to continue flight testing.
March 26, 2019
In preparation for water testing of Privateer™ to be held at Leesburg Airport (LEE), Rob has "singled-up" the landing gear so that we can retract the gear into the hulls.
During the first week of March, the aircraft was making a final test of gear retraction at Melbourne (MLB) when an unexpected crosswind gust made for a "hard landing". The starboard main gear collapsed, causing Privateer™ to veer off the runway, which collapsed the remaining gear. A photo is available in the gallery ("Hard Landing MLB").
It should be noted that this was the second incident of the day. A Piper Seneca had a similar experience earlier, causing it to lose both props and necessitate a tear-down of both engines as well as destroying antennae and wiping out the landing gear.
I note that Privateer™ suffered very little damage from the incident. With the exception of the landing gear, which is being remanufactured, we will have completed “road rash” repairs to Privateer™ by the end of this week. Privateer™ is a tough nugget.
I will be at Sun-N-Fun from April 2nd through April 5th or 6th, even though I cannot exhibit Privateer™. I will be part of an Aviation Network interview at Sun-N-Fun on April 5th at 12:30 P.M., and will be available to discuss partnering/joint venture in order to manufacture/market the Privateer™ Aircraft with interested parties.
December 6, 2018
Privateer™ amphibian has been moved from Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX) to Melbourne International Airport (MLB) after having achieved its first flight on August 6, 2018.
Privateer™ will remain at Melbourne while completing water landings and testing. We will use the new ramp recently installed at Leesburg International Airport, (LEE) to access the water. The ramp will allow us to first enter the water from land to ensure that water variables are satisfactory before making the initial water landing.
Rob is having new rudders and associated brackets fabricated; they should be ready shortly.
We will use fly-by-wire technology to operate the rudders, in lieu of an intricate cable/pulley lash-up.
Privateer™ has been selected as a "featured aircraft" at Sun-N-Fun, Lakeland, FL, April 2 - 7, 2019. Harvey Cleveland, test pilot, will fly every day.
October 19, 2018
Rob Lueck, President of Top Flight Services, and Harvey Cleveland, Test Pilot, have proven to be the "A-Team" in the development of the Privateer™ Amphibian.
After ten years of effort in both Seattle, WA, and Titusville, FL, Privateer™ completed its first flight on August 6, 2018.
Privateer™ is now both the safest and fastest modern amphibian.
Harvey has reported that the new amphibian has good flight characteristics and has exceeded expectations in several areas. He noted that speed/power setting indications are that we will more than meet our expected range criteria. The aircraft has also flown at slower speeds than might be expected.
The Privateer™ Amphibian now has more than twenty-three hours air time and Rob Lueck, President of Top Flight Services, has completed the initial discovery punch list.
Harvey and Rob are working together to "single up" the main landing gear and seal the hull in preparation for water landings.
On completion of the water work, we will begin to market the amphibian.