EVER been sat on a boat in choppy waters and just wished that you could take off out of the sea? Or ever been in turbulence and looked out the aircraft window to see only the sea for miles and been petrified for your life?
Incredibly, you no longer have to worry or wish as that has now become a reality – thanks to a flying boat.
The AirFish 8 was designed by Singapore firm Wigetworks can reach speeds of up to 120mph (106 knots).
The boat-cum-plane is 17m long and 5m wide, and it can carry two staff members and six to eight passengers.
The company is working on a much larger model though – that could carry up to 50 passengers.
To fly, the wig craft glides on a cushion of air between 1.5 and 60 feet above the ground.
They are planning to use the vehicles to help people travel between islands in countries popular with tourists like the Philippines and the Maldives.
As it only needs 500m of space to take off, the machines could help transport people to places where ferries are unable to reach.
Speaking to Channel News Asia, the company’s executive director Kenneth Tan said: “There are a lot of islands that do not have the funding to build infrastructure to take light aircraft or even bigger aircraft.
“And there are islands that are too far away, whereby conventional ferry travel could be too long.
“With this craft, we’re breaking into new frontiers, reopening up all these islands for future development.”
The WIG is classified as a marine craft and designed to take off and land on water. It runs on readily available automotive grade fuel and is powered by a car engine that is comparable to its power-to-weight ratio to an aircraft turbo engine. Flying the airfish is so simple so much that a simplified yet effective approach can be taken to the training and qualification of the crew.
As a waterborne vehicle, WIG requires no runway for take-off and landing. Hence, minimizing set up cost incurred by the government or private operators to operate the craft. In addition, berthing station for WIG may be built rapidly with relatively simple, inexpensive and traditional method, such as: combination of wooden jetty and polymer pontoon. Relatively low draught of WIG allows the docking station to be constructed in the shallow water area not to far from the shore line.
Fast and Fuel-efficient
The WIG operates on aerodynamic lift and literally glides on a air cushion of about 0.5-6 meters above the sea water. The unique design allows it to avoid contact with water (a medium 800 times heavier than air) and its strong yet light composite fibre body allows longer durability than most marine crafts. Compared to larger marine crafts, the WIG is able to consume lesser fuel whilst traversing at a faster speed (80 knots versus 10-20 knots).
The Wing-In-Ground’s simple system operability minimises the risk of flight accidents and technical errors that may arise from pilot or operator dependency. At a lower flight altitude and above sea-water, passenger altitude sickness or motion sea-sickness is also be significantly reduced. Should an engine hardware failure unexpectedly occur, the WIG is able to land immediately on an ever-present runway merely 1 meter or 2 below.
Takeoff and land is relatively smooth when the water is flat but can be rough when the waves are high, however this lasts for only 30-45 seconds and once airborne the ride is smooth and easy regardless of the waves below