Model Hoverwing from above

Inspired in part by the Ekranoplans built in the late 20th century, we are developing a "Hoverwing" format ground effect vehicle using a skirted hovercraft as the platform in combination with high lift coefficient wings, sited to give maximum ground effect through a unique mounting system.

How does it work?  A ground effect vehicle or Ekranoplan, uses a pair of wings to lift the vehicle clear of the ground or water by less than the wingspan (see picture).  Unlike a conventional aircraft, the wings interact with the ground or water surface to build up additional pressure due to the gap acting as a convergent nozzle; also, the ground or water surface straightens the airflow and reduce wingtip vortices.  The lift to drag ratio increases by typically 40%, giving a more efficient, hence financially beneficial and environmentally friendly mode of transport.

Achieving the 40% improvement and ensuring stability is difficult, but not impossible.  It was alleged that the early Ekranoplans were falling short as a result of the wing shape and there were Flarecraft accidents due to poor pitch stability.  However, with the correct wing plan, these are resolvable.

In most countries, as long as ground effect vehicles or Ekranoplans remain in ground effect, they are not classified as aircraft, but as boats or ground vehicles, reducing the operation cost and legal burden further.  

Our Progress So Far: We have built and tested a 1/6 scale model hoverwing, which you can see with various wingplans on our Youtube channel.  We opted for a tandem or canard wingplan.  During the early stages, we suffered pitch stability issues, not dissimilar to what the Ekranoplan or Flarecraft development when through, but for different reasons.  However, when we changed to close-coupled canards, the pitch stability improved. 

Next, we arrived at the three-surface wingplan shown in the picture, that has yielded better stability, as seen here:

However, we managed to improve stability and the structural side of the craft by going to a two-surface approach, based on a larger lower-loaded rear lifting surface - see here:

On ice, it has performed very well in both ground effect and free-flight, indication potential for lakes that freeze over in the winter in countries such as Canada:

We have started construction on a 1/4 scale model to test out build methods for the lift surfaces and to determine more accurately how to scale up fully.

We have already started building the hovercraft portion of the full scale Hoverwing ground effect vehicle.  We are using a Flying Fish Marlin II hull, fitted with a 155HP 650cc Suzuki racing bike engine.  Later versions will probably go over to a four stroke aero engine to improve emissions.

We are planning full-scale vehicles in two versions:

  • The Ekranoversion™ - This is a self-build kit to convert a recreational hovercraft into a Ground Effect Vehicle.  This is comprised of a frame that bolts round the hovercraft body supporting wings and a stabiliser, along with a control column that links to the control surfaces.
  • The Hoversoar™ - A complete Ground Effect Vehicle where the hovercraft platform and wings match in a seamless manner.

Benefits:-

  • A Ground Effect Vehicle typically consumes 40% less fuel than a comparable aircraft.
  • International maritime law considers Ground Effect Vehicles to be boats, not aircraft and are thus not subject to stringent aircraft legislation.
  • In addition to the benefits of a hovercraft, they can clear obstacles such as mud banks, hedges and groyns.
  • They are less affected by heavy seas than a conventional Hovercraft on account of the greater separation between the vehicle and the water.
  • They consume less fuel than a conventional hovercraft because the skirt is not in contact with the water/ground surface.

Applications:

Leisure (Cruising, etc), Crop Spraying, Algae Spraying, Oil Spill/Slick Recovery, Search and Rescue, Sight-Seeing trips around archipelagos and on lakes, Archipelago, Lake or Loch Taxis, High speed passenger ferrying and "Ekranofreight" for rapid transport of gas cylinders and other air mode prohibited goods in a timescale approaching that of airfreight.

Furthermore, these vehicles are effectively amphibious, so, for example, the journey could be between two seas or lakes over a tract of land in between, as long as the land in question is relatively flat and unpopulated.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Please contact us via our contact form, email or phone.

Furthermore, if you cannot wait and want to become involved directly with the project, we would like to hear from you. We see this project as potentially extending to include partners, either in allied industries or who have an interest, ideas or wish to invest.