Meet Hovertravel’s new fleet of next-generation hovercraft
Hovertravel has been operating a passenger hovercraft service between the UK mainland and the Isle of Wight for over 50 years. In 2016, the company is preparing to welcome in a brand new fleet of hovercraft into service.
The new 12000TD hovercraft have been designed specifically with Hovertravel's requirements in mind and are expected to offer a huge number of improvements over the existing fleet, particularly in the areas of fuel economy and passenger comfort.
Hovertravel is the only commercial hovercraft passenger service in the world and in 2015 the company, which operates a 10 minute route between Southsea in Portsmouth and Ryde on the Isle of Wight, celebrated its 50th anniversary.
As part of those celebrations, Hovertravel also revealed its plans to introduce a pair of brand new hovercraft to the route within the next couple of years. Its current fleet, comprised of two AP-188 hovercraft which make up to 70 crossings per day, has served the company well since the early 1980s but at around 30 years old they are now reaching the end of their serviceable lives.
Introducing new models gives Hovertravel the opportunity to take advantage of the many advancements that have been made in hovercraft technology since the AP-188 was first designed. With the 12000TD, particular focus has been given to improving the fuel economy of the craft in an effort to reduce the running costs.
The new model features two engines compared to the current craft's four, which should bring a significant fuel saving of somewhere between 5 and 25%. Halving the number of engines combined with the 12000TD's larger thrust propellers also means the new hovercraft are significantly quieter, both inside for passengers and from the outside.
Loading and unloading of passengers will be done through two integrated 'clam shell' doors at the front of the craft, which should improve turnaround times.
The new hovercraft are being constructed out of marine-grade aluminium by Griffon Hoverwork, a sister company to Hovertravel and one of the world's leading manufacturers of commercial and rescue hovercraft.
The new hovercraft are expected to replace the current Hovertravel fleet - Freedom 90 and Island Express - in the latter half of 2016. The first of them has already begun testing ahead of undertaking full sea trials on the Solent.