How does a Hovercraft work?

Hovercraft or Air Cushion Vehicles ACV’s work by creating pressurized air between the hull above, the water or ground below, and a flexible skirt around the perimeter to create lift. The lift fan creates a lens of air that escapes between the skirt and the surface to reduce friction. The amount of lubricating air is a factor in the life to the skirt material. A flexible rubber skirt is tailored to create clearance between the rigid hull, and the water or ground below. This allows the hovercraft to travel over rough ground or waves. Hovercraft technology allows the vessel to be amphibious and travel over water with much less wasted energy. Look at the wake left by a typical powerboat, where did that wave come from? The vessels wake is created by the hull pushing through the water at speed. This requires energy from the engine.

hovercraft lift diagram

Hovercraft Systems Engineering

One of the key design points for a successful hovercraft is keeping the weight to a minimum. Our designs excel at maximizing the useful load and space inside the hovercraft. The goal is to build a vessel that can carry passengers or cargo. Systems engineering looks at each component or design element for its impact on the overall design. By this method we can produce a better vessel.

Lift and propulsion efficiency also plays an important role, since the engine can be smaller. This leads to less fuel load, fuel tank size, engine support structure, lighter drive hardware, starting battery, and so on. Many hovercraft designs fail to meet the requirements of the job due to a lack of fundamental engineering analysis. Designers try to fix the problems with more power. You can only carry so much gross weight for a given ground area covered by the skirt. A craft that is too heavy will not be able to get on plane, as the depression in the water is too deep. In fact some are so poorly conceived their payload is zero! They can only start from land, getting up to speed before going over water.

Modern methods and materials

Amphibious Marine uses modern composite materials to reduce the weight of the craft so it can do more work for you. Another advantage of a light weight efficient design is less power used, better fuel economy and less noise for you and your neighbors. I hope this helped you better understand how hovercraft work.