Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Australian Hovercraft promises silent travel over reefs and high seas

by Jeni Bone on 7 May 2012
Velocity 30 .. ©
Wing in ground effect, or WIG as it’s known in the realm of hovercrafts, is something Michael Fane from Australian Hovercraft is proficient in and something he says is the future of transport.

'When I was 22, I built little hovercraft. I went in to mining, then over to Asia and worked around the region. By the time I was 35 I built Lady Bernie, finished in 1989. We sea trialled it to Rottnest Island in the highest seas, carrying eight plus Captain and it was very efficient.'

With a background in Accounting and Business Law, Fane is also a mechanical fitter by trade with a private pilot’s license, electrical workers license, cockswain ticket, and is a registered CPA and registered tax agent.

The Wing In Ground-effect vehicle is a vehicle that cruises little more than a few feet over flat surfaces, most often water. It can be seen as a transition between a hovercraft and an aircraft. WIGs are also classified as Ground Effect Vehicles, or Sea Skimmers.

This seamless ground to water to air craft is something that has consumed Fane for decades. Based in WA, his company has completed for commercial use the flagship in the range, the Velocity 30 which is capable of operating in a confined harbour and on open seas.

'It can go from A to B over reefs and sand bars in shallow water and people can see everything! Added to that, with my model, there's no sea sickness, no matter what the sea conditions are.'

Fane continues: 'With my WIG we take off as hovercraft, leave the water at 45 knots with 30 passengers, or 90 in the case of Hoverflight 90, and can go 75 knots with engines running at 60% with a 700 nm range fully loaded – about the same as a Catalina seaplane. Like the Catalina, if we only carry fuel up to a tonne with passengers or half a tonne with their luggage on board, but if we put 3 tonnes of fuel our range extends to 2,5000nm.'

There is already a market. Hovercraft is currently in use by Broome Hovercraft which has been operating for about 30 years and was designed and made by Airlift in Queensland. There is one in use around the Isle of Wight and one used to be operating across the English Channel, 'before it wore out'.

The average cruise speed is 25 knots, even though they can do 60, says Fane. 'But you have to consider the passengers and the sea states and waves. If you go airborne, it can be dangerous.

The hovercraft has been endorsed by Lloyds and has IMO approval.

Fane is confident there is a massive market. 'Tourism, transportation between islands, luxury tenders and regular transport. The military, rescue and patrol would be another application.'

The current model Velocity 30 uses 375 HP Caterpillar engine and 8 foot seven blade Pitch in motion 700 RPM Propeller and is marketed as 'super silent'. At 14.45 metres long 5 metres wide it accommodates 30 seats and cruises at 25 to 30 knots. The price is UAD$900,000.

Says Fane: 'It has directional control similar to a good handling boat. Most hovercraft do not have this control at low speeds and thus avoid harbours and hover onto concrete pads or land only. Many hovercraft have to gain speed before entering water as they will not gain enough speed to hover over the water hump from a water start.

Transferring passengers to boats at sea is simple and easy operation for this 30 passenger seat craft. 'We can build for superyacht tender, coastal patrol, airport rescue, military service, or any commercial operation specified.'



On open oceans, the craft is totally stable, asserts Fane. 'On one trip to Rottnest Island our cruise speed varied between 22 and 25 knots up to 30 knots for short periods as per our GPS. Seas were one metre.

Noise and impact on the environment are minimal, states Fane. 'The propeller is so silent in operation, the birds and seals to not change behaviour as we pass close by. This is possibly the only hovercraft manufactured in the world today that does not disturbed wildlife. Passengers travel on the outside deck at speed and are able to talk to each other.'

This silence is the result of years of Research and Development into both silent propellers, sound absorbing ducts and lift fans. 'A paint with micro ceramic tubes is on all surfaces in the engine room preventing transmitting of sound and heat.'

The new Build Velocity 30 Hovercraft will be 17 metres long 7 metres wide with additional props and space within, and a price of around AUD$2 million.

'Hovercraft is the future for environmental tours and for high speed passenger transport Hoverflight is the answer. For the same speed and same payload, it uses one third of the fuel.'

What Fane is now waiting on is investment for manufacturing. Given the shortage of skilled labour in WA and a lack of factory sites on the watersedge, he is considering relocating interstate or offshore to mass produce these craft.
More at www.australianhovercraft.com

Ancasta Ker 33 660x82Mackay BoatsNaiad/Oracle Supplier

Related Articles

America's Cup - Kiwi lodges Appeal against Jury in San Francisco Cup
Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case taken against the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. On October 28, 2016, US District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed Mitchell's claim against the five-person International Jury on the basis that it was lodged too late.
Posted on 2 Dec
A Q&A with Nick Bice about the recent changes for the 2017/2018 VOR
I caught up with Nick Bice, the VOR’s director of boats and maintenance, to learn more about the VOR’s new directions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s director of boats and maintenance, deliver a keynote speech to an audience of marine-industry professionals and official Volvo Ocean Race suppliers at the 2016 METS trade show in Amsterdam. I caught up with Bice after his presentation to learn more about the new directions that the race is taking for its thirteenth edition.
Posted on 28 Nov
A Q&A with Sharon Green about the prep work that ensures great images
I talked with ace photographer Sharon Green to learn more about the prep work that goes into each image that she snaps. I caught up with ace photographer Sharon Green at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn more about the behind-the-scenes preparation work that goes into each image that she snaps. While some of Green’s tips are specific to professional shooters (e.g., helicopter time or juggling multiple camera bodies), plenty of amateur lensmen will be well served to consider Green’s racecourse-proven tips.
Posted on 23 Nov
Dockside with CQS - radical, revamped supermaxi up close
The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday - the White Island Race which will double as Rolex Sydney Hobart Qualifier. Originally the 90ft Nicorette designed by South African Alex Simonis, the new project to upgrade to a 100ft supermaxi has been led by Brett Bakewell-White (NZ) and Bakewell-White Yacht Design.
Posted on 22 Nov
Gladwell's Line - President Croce caught at helm in Perfect Storm
No real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way an eight-year term After a year or more punctuated with issues that should not have happened, it is no real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way through what should have been an eight-year term. Also gone is one of his lieutenants, Chris Atkins (GBR) as Vice President, who remarkably polled 13th out of the 15 candidates.
Posted on 15 Nov
Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep