Griffon Hoverwork is one step closer to making “hovertravel” a reality in East Asia.
The British outfit just announced its bonkers new 12000TD hovercraft has completed sea trials in the U.K, as reported by Marine Industry News. The vessel is now heading to Japan to establish a new passenger service between Oita Airport and Oita City.
Griffon has already delivered a similar 12000TD to Hovertravel (pictured below). The British transport company uses the craft to ferry passengers between Southsea in Portsmouth and Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Griffon has made a few adjustments to the design for the Japanese market, though. Most notably, the 82-foot newcomer is nearly seven feet longer than the standard model. As such, it can comfortably accommodate 80 passengers plus two passengers in wheelchairs.
Christened Baien, the craft took two years of hard work to complete. The team had to join, bend, and weld thousands of individual pieces of aluminum to create the water-tight hull. They also installed a “puff port” mechanism with a valve that can bleed off pressure and push the vessel into the right position.
“It’s for very fine maneuvering, and our customer in Japan has quite a tight space in their boathouse, so it will be used to help them park the craft,” Griffon’s chief pilot Ben Avery explained in a YouTube clip.
In addition, Baien is equipped with MAN V-12 diesel engines rated at 1,000 hp that can push it to 45 knots with less than 75 decibels of cabin noise. The craft also has low running and maintenance costs, plus 13 tons of payload, according to Griffon.
Japan’s Oita government actually commissioned three hovercraft as part of a $32 million (£25 million) contract. The trio will carry passengers along a vital ferry route between the city and the airport that was last used about 10 years ago. All three crafts are expected to roll out in Japan by next January.
Griffon has delivered more than 180 hovercraft to over 41 countries over the past half-century but says this was one of its biggest deals to date.