The world's climate is changing.
Increasing temperatures are causing sea levels to rise and a higher frequency of extreme weather is being experienced across the globe. As a result, areas of transition between land and water are created, featuring hazards such as, shallow water, vegetation, debris, ice and mud. These create physical barriers to conventional vehicles operating between communities. For those living within these communities, these increasing environmental hazards bring challenges and life-threatening situations particularly when flooding occurs.
Conventional vehicles are not designed to operate in these extreme environments, suffering from shortcomings that hinder their use. For example;
- Wheeled vehicles get bogged down, stuck or blocked
- Boats cannot travel through shallows containing debris or vegetation which can damage the hull and propulsion.
- Helicopters are expensive in terms of acquisition, maintenance and operational costs, whilst delivering low volumes of payload. A suitable landing zone is also required.
Hovercraft thrive in transitional environments between land and water, by creating a cushion of air using lift fans which raise the hull up to 1.8m above the surface below, known as "hover height". This lift is maintained and aided by a flexible rubber skirt creating ground pressure less than sixteen times the pressure of a human footstep. Propulsion is generated by propellers at the back of the craft which allow it to travel at speeds in excess of 45 knots.
The combination of high speed and hover height means hovercraft can travel quickly and directly to where users are needed, flying over the ground, avoiding hazards and at high speed.
The specialised characteristics of hovercraft means they have differing characteristics to conventional vehicles that make them suited to amphibious operations.
The advantages of Hovercraft:
- They can travel over almost any non-porous surface.
- They can operate to and from any unprepared beach or slipway.
- They take fast, direct routes compared to a conventional marine vessel.
- They are suited to operations in disaster zones or areas with destroyed infrastructure.
- They can operate in amphibious environments where no other vehicle successfully can.
- They deliver high payloads of resources in a more cost-effective way than helicopters.
- They are simple to operate and maintain.
Hovercraft are environmentally friendly:
- They make minimal wake or wash that can adversely affect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
- They have no underwater pressure signature and have no impact on marine life.
- The destruction of habitats through dredging and port infrastructure to accommodate conventional marine vessels is not required with hovercraft.
- A hovercraft's engine and propulsion remain separate from and is not reliant on the water it travels over unlike marine craft.
- The ground pressure of a hovercraft travelling over land is less than one sixteenth the pressure of a human footprint.
Like all vehicles hovercraft do have limitations:
- Hovercraft are limited to carry a certain payload depending on their size to ensure effective hover.
- Their weight must be balanced for effective mobility and control.
- High winds and heavy sea states have an unfavourable effect on performance.
- Hovercraft cannot operate on steep slopes.
- Like aircraft they require a degree of inspection and maintenance, ideally stored under cover away from climatic extremes. However, the skills and time required to maintain and operate the craft is considerably lower than an aircraft.
Our hovercraft use commercially available technology, are diesel powered, and use aluminium as the primary hull structure to make them easy to maintain and repair in the field.
Where boats have no access and roads don't reach, Griffon Hoverwork's hovercraft have a proven record of over 50 years in delivering what is required to where it is needed quickly and at a fraction of the cost of helicopters.