Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On Water Boat Show

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

Barz Optics - FloatersAncasta Ker 33 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted today at 5:58 am
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug
Rio Olympics - Fourth gallery of images the fearsome Niteroi course
Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds. believe it or not the sea conditions were worse inshore as the fleet encountered the backwashed Atlantic rollers
Posted on 12 Aug
Rio 2016 - Third image gallery of 470's braving the Atlantic Ocean
Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds
Posted on 12 Aug
Gladwell's Line - The challenges of Guanbara Bay
The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer course, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest of the 2016 Sailing Olympics. Over shadowed by a 1300ft tall granite and quartz mountain in the shape of a sugarloaf, the bay suffers from dramatic windshifts, and huge variance in wind pressure.
Posted on 11 Aug
Rio 2016 - Fresher breezes expected inside and outside on Day 3
Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the fleet scheduled to race outside on the Atlantic Ocean course off Copacabana Beach, while the 470 Men and Women will race inside on Guananara Bay.
Posted on 10 Aug
Rio 2016 - Day 2 brings more tumult for some, salvation for others
The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. He picked up where he left off on Day 1 in Race 4 of the Men's RS:X class on the Escola Naval race area to record his third win in four races. Poland's Piotr Myszka finished second with Brazil's Ricardo Santos third.
Posted on 10 Aug