Wing-in-ground-effect crafts (WIG crafts)

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Wing-in-ground-effect crafts (WIG crafts)
« em: Janeiro 31, 2005, 11:15:20 pm »
Korea to Commercialize Flying Boats by 2010
(Source: Korean Information Service; issued Jan. 30, 2005)
 South Korea will commercialize aircraft-like passenger vessels designed to skim a few meters above the surface of the ocean at speeds faster than 200 kilometers per hour within five years.  
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF) said on Sunday (Jan. 30) that science and technology-related ministers decided to commercialize large wing-in-ground-effect crafts (WIG crafts) that can carry 200 passengers by 2010.  
WIG vessels, which look like airplanes, glide about five to six meters above water at speeds of almost 170 knots (300 kilometers per hour), a speed no conventional vessel can match. WIG crafts lie between aircrafts and very fast ships and can match the overall travel time of air transport when used for medium distances.  
The increased speed will be achieved by lifting the keel of the vessel from water to air, an environment 840 times less dense than water, to eliminate hydrodynamic resistance.  
Instead of using noisy fans to lift the keel of the vessel like a hydrofoil that uses underwater wings or a hovercraft, WIG ships stay afloat on a cushion of air above the surface of the water by converting the kinetic energy or forward motion of the ship into ground effect and potential energy or height.  
Ground effect or wing-in-ground-effect refers to an apparent increase in aerodynamic lift by an aircraft flying close to the ground.  
Moreover, WIG crafts are extremely fuel-efficient. Flying at extremely low altitudes increases air pressure under the wing of the craft by almost 80 percent and significantly reduces aerodynamic drag, or air resistance, thus allowing WIG crafts to burn up 50 percent less fuel than other aircrafts traveling the same distance.  
Besides the fast speed and energy-efficient feature, WIG ships promise greater safety to passengers because they fly at lower altitudes and there is less of a chance of colliding with whales or other marine wildlife than with existing type of commercial vessels.  
Despite these merits, the "dream" vessel has failed to become a commercial success due to its high price and a shortcoming that previous models could not travel in high tides. There are a number of foreign shipbuilders and aircraft makers that have developed WIG crafts in the past.  
However, the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) developed a WIG craft that can travel steadily at high speeds in high tide and have improved safety features. KORDI’s in-house developed WIG ship technologies are patented in Korea, the United States and Singapore.  
MOMAF plans to inject a total of 120 billion won into the WIG ship commercialization project from the second half of this year.  
"We plan to build 50 large WIG ships by 2010. Commercialization of the WIG ship will bring about an economic effect of over 1.25 trillion won," a MOMAF spokesman said.  
The ministry expects commercialization of the WIG craft to reduce sea travel time between Korea and Japan and Korea and China to 1-3 hours, while cutting down passenger transport costs to about one-third of air transport.  
The International Maritime Organization categorizes WIG ships as sea vessels but global aircraft makers, such as Boeing, have announced plans to build WIG crafts.