Airfish-8 wing-in-ground effect aircraft to launch in 2025

In the evolving landscape of transportation, the Airfish-8 emerges as a distinctive figure, poised to redefine travel over water by combining the efficiency of aircraft with the practicality of marine vessels. Slated for service in 2025, this wing-in-ground (WIG) effect aircraft, developed by Singapore’s ST Engineering, is gearing up to make waves, quite literally, with its innovative design and remarkable capabilities.

The Airfish-8’s design is a visual spectacle, featuring an enormous reverse-delta wing, a large double T-tail, top-mounted pusher propellers, and dramatically upswept wingtips. This design isn’t just for show; it plays a crucial role in the aircraft’s ability to hover close to the water surface, leveraging the WIG effect for enhanced performance. This phenomenon allows the Airfish-8 to travel at speeds three times faster than conventional boats and with 2.3 times the fuel efficiency of standard aircraft.

This vehicle is not just about speed and efficiency; it’s about accessibility and versatility. The Airfish-8 can carry two crew members and up to eight passengers or a ton of cargo, all powered by a 500-horsepower V8 car engine that runs on regular unleaded gasoline. Its operational simplicity is one of its strongest selling points, requiring no specialized infrastructure as it can operate off regular jetty facilities.

Airfish-8 Wing-in-ground Effect Aircraft Lift-Off
The Airfish-8 speeds up on the water’s surface before lift-off. Images courtesy Wigetworks/Peluca

Upon departure, the Airfish-8 gracefully accelerates over water, lifting off to maintain a height of 2-23 feet above the surface. This strategic use of the WIG effect zone enables it to achieve speeds of up to 90 knots (104 mph/167 km/h), making it a preferable option for navigating choppy waters with ease and comfort.

Despite not reaching the speeds of the fastest seaplanes, the Airfish-8 stands out for its efficiency and ease of operation. Its aesthetic appeal in motion is undeniable, likely making it a sought-after experience for tourists seeking unique adventures on the water.

The genesis of the Airfish-8’s design can be traced back to the 1960s, inspired by the work of Dr. Alexander Martin Lippisch. His designs laid the foundation for vehicles that could utilize the WIG effect for low-altitude flight, a concept further refined in the Airfish-8 to allow it to adapt to varying sea conditions more effectively than its predecessors, like the Russian Ekranoplans.

Airfish-8 Wing-in-ground Effect Aircraft On Water
Ground-effect vehicles like the Airfish-8 have been around for some time but haven’t yet seen broad commercial success.

In the contemporary context, the Airfish-8 represents a blend of tried-and-tested design principles with modern engineering marvels. However, it faces competition from emerging technologies in passenger operations, such as the fully electric Regent Seaglider and military innovations like DARPA’s “Liberty Lifter” X-Plane, both of which promise to push the boundaries of what’s possible in marine and air transport.

A partnership between ST Engineering and Peluca (formerly Wigetworks) aims to bring the Airfish-8 to the commercial market under the name ST Engineering AirX. The initial customer sale, a letter of intent from Eurasia Mobility Solutions, proposes the delivery of up to 10 aircraft for use in tourism and private transport around Turkey, starting in 2025. This agreement, though tentative, marks a significant step towards the operational debut of the Airfish-8.

Source: ST Engineering

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