Russia reveals a giant ground effect vehicle (GEV) cargo plane that will fly just 10 feet above the sea, capable to carry heavy loads.
The Russian ‘groundskimmer’ is a huge cargo plane that uses ground effect to trap air underneath its short wings, to carry 500 tonnes.
Specialists of the Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute named after professor N.E. Zhukovsky (TsAGI, a part of the Scientific Research Center “Institute named after N.E. Zhukovsky”) are developing the concept of an integrated-circuit heavy transport aircraft. Such layout combines functions of a wing with those of a body to take optimal advantage of the aircraft interior and to enhance the aerodynamic efficiency.
The aircraft is intended for intercontinental transportation of large amounts of cargo — up to 500 t, including transportation in approved containers. They are to be placed in compartments inside a wing and loaded via flap doors of fore-sections (leading edges) in the aircraft’s center. The aircraft will utilize existing runways. The largest part of this aircraft’s flight takes place at an altitude of 3-12 m above water, ice or ground: these surfaces produce a screening effect which improves the lift/drag ratio considerably, leading to a decrease in fuel consumption and a significant increase in flight range.
Russia’s Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute, which is developing the project, explains:
“The layout combines functions of a wing with those of a body to take optimal advantage of the aircraft interior and to enhance the aerodynamic efficiency. The aircraft is intended for intercontinental transportation of large amounts of cargo — up to 500 tonnes, including transportation in approved containers.”
A ground effect vehicle (GEV) is a vehicle that is designed to attain sustained flight over a level surface (usually over the sea), by making use of ground effect, the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface. Among the best known are the Soviet ekranoplans, but names like wing-in-ground-effect (WIG), flarecraft, sea skimmer, or wing-in-surface-effect ship (WISE) are also used.
In recent years a large number of different GEV types have been developed for both civilian and military use. However, these craft have yet to enter widespread use. The German Tandem Airfoil Flairboats or Skimmerfoils constructed by Gunther Jörg differ in their use of self-stabilizing wings.
Images credit Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute