An evaluation is made of some of the major performance and economic characteristics of the air cushion craft as it has evolved to date after some 9 years of active development.
The air cushion craft has a definite role in many military and commercial missions, brought about by its unique combination of amphibious capability and high speed. This paper concentrates on some of its operational performance characteristics and discusses these together with a comparative analysis of the air cushion craft and other means of transportation, including CTOL aircraft, helicopters, and ships.
An economic evaluation is also given using an adapted form of the standard ATA Method to provide a meaningful and common basis for comparison with aircraft direct operating costs. The air cushion craft mission inputs reflect the experience gained to date in both the British Hovercraft operations and the Bell SK-5 experience in the San Francisco commercial operations.
By isolating the critical design parameters, indication is given of the potential of future generations of air cushion craft in the field of air transportation.