01 October 2008

Word of the Day: Ekranoplan

With fuel costs skyrocketing, and airlines hurting because of it ... maybe this should be the future of trans-oceanic flight.

An article from the BCC on the Soviet Ekranoplan, aka. The Caspian Sea Monster.

This is a salient quote:

What they were looking at was, in fact, an Ekranoplan; a wing in ground effect or WIG craft designed to fly at very high speed a few metres over the top of the sea. It sounds not unlike a hovercraft. But where a hovercraft floats on a skirt of air, the Ekranoplan sits clean above the surface and relies on a well known, if little understood aerodynamic phenomenon called "ground-effect".

In very simple terms the wing produces a dynamic cushion of air when it's close to the ground and the Ekranoplan effectively rides upon this. It's the same effect that pelicans use when flying low over the sea and it's a remarkably efficient way of flying, actually increasing lift by as much as 40%. All of which means the Ekranoplan was far more efficient than conventional aeroplanes.

Now, update the technologies to the modern day ... all the while thinking about a 40% increase in efficiency.

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