Airfish 8: This Unique Marine Craft Will Change The Way People Travel – Forbes

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. For Sim Wong Hoo, a shareholder of Wigetworks and Founder of Creative Technology, the goal is to “transform, or revolutionize 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 all the more easier as the craft can reach areas where ferries and boats would be unable to.

Explaining the possibilities to explore the thousands of islands in Indonesia, Philippines, Polynesia and the Caribbean amongst others, Sim shares that the craft, which currently sits up to 8 passengers, will no doubt offer a better alternative for travel to these countries and “open up many hitherto unexplored frontiers.”

Wigetworks

The Airfish 8 can hover 2-6 metres over water and travel up to 2 to 3 times faster than ferries.

Using technology first started by the Russians in 1960, the Airfish 8 itself is based on a German prototype and is the world’s first to be registered as a merchant ship with the Singapore Registry of Shipping.

Utilizing 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 Sim, 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.

Wigetworks

Currently the Airfish 8 only has a carrying capacity for 8 but future plans include building bigger crafts.

Besides the obvious island-hopping, Sim also explains how the craft could prove beneficial in other areas such as crew transfer from base to off-shore 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.

“WIGs fill in a very nice niche in that it travels at the speed of seaplanes and helicopters, in a far safer manner, at a cost that is not much more – probably around the same as a high-speed boat,” said Sim.

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, as well as to explore hybridization, autonomization and create bigger, safer and more efficient crafts that fit up to 20-40 passengers.

Till then, it could do you no wrong to start planning trips to some of the unexplored islands in the region.

Airfish 8: This Unique Marine Craft Will Change The Way People Travel – Forbes