Fitted with the engine of a race car — specifically a 7-litre V8 engine — and resembling the look of a sleek seaplane, the Airfish 8 is in fact classified as a merchant ship.
Based in Singapore, the company behind it, Wigetworks, hopes to change the way people travel and offer a whole host of other uses with this innovative craft with a goal to transform the high-speed maritime transport industry.” Hovering about 2-6 metres above water and with the capability to reach top speed of 180 km/hr — 2 to 3 times faster than ferries — the Airfish 8 doesn’t require a jetty or runway to dock since it lands on water. This means that island-exploration becomes easier as the craft can reach areas inaccessible to ferries and boats.
The craft, which currently sits up to 8 passengers, will offer a better alternative for travel to many islands. Using technology first started by the Russians in 1960, the Airfish 8 is based on a German prototype. Utilising the Wing-In-Ground (WIG) effect, the craft essentially flies close to the water surface while supported by a field of high-pressure air beneath its wings and above the water surface. This creates the impression that it’s simply gliding above a cushion of air.
Travelling above the water surface also means there’s no hydrodynamic drag, making the craft much more fuel-efficient. According to the company take off and landing is relatively swift and effortless when the water is flat, but it can get a little rough when the waves are high. However, that only lasts for about 30-45 seconds, and once airborne, the ride would be smooth and easy regardless of the waves below. Besides the obvious island-hopping, the craft could prove beneficial in other areas such as crew transfer from base to offshore oil platforms, paramilitary applications for coast guards and marine police, oil spill recovery, transportation of cargoes, goods, and fresh seafood, as well as other military applications.
Currently in the trial phase, the Airfish 8 is slated to be operational by the second half of 2018. As for future plans, the team at Wigetworks intends to lower costs in order to appeal to mid-range resorts for transfers and create bigger, safer and more efficient crafts that fit up to 20-40 passengers.