Engineering students to help in developing future WIG vessels

The WIG vessel is environmentally friendly as it does not discharge any ballast or cooling water, greatly reducing the risk of contamination and pollution.

DESIGN-Centric Curriculum students at the Faculty of Engineering will soon get hands-on experience in working on the latest transportation innovation - Wing-in-Ground (WIG) vessels.

Singapore's first WIG craft registered as a commercial vessel, M/V Airfish8-001 was unveiled on 25 April 2010 at Vivocity Promenade by Wigetworks Private Ltd (WW), making maritime history in Singapore. Mr Kenneth Tan, General Manager, Wigetworks Private Ltd (WW), a Singapore-registered company, said that WW plans to establish a WIG assembly plant in Singapore the following year, with capacity to assemble at least 30 WIG vessels annually for export during the steady state phase of operation.

"WW is proud to achieve this significant milestone in maritime transportation through the strong support of the Maritime Port Authority, Lloyd's Register and other government agencies and partners, involving several years of effort to meet all regulatory and legislative requirements which ensures that the craft is constructed and operated in accordance to International Maritime Organisation established guidelines, as well as with Lloyd's Register standards," said Mr Tan.

NUS and research institutions will continue the development of the Airfish Technology to increase the carrying capacity of future WIG vessels. Said NUS Dean of Engineering, Prof Chan Eng Soon, "This collaboration will enable NUS Engineering students in our Design-Centric Curriculum to acquire in-depth hands-on experience in applying fundamental engineering principles to actual complex products and large-scale challenges. Our vision is that such partnerships with industry will contribute to Singapore's technology development, as well as nurture a pool of academics and professionals with the creativity and expertise to pioneer homegrown brands."

The vessel, christened by Mrs Lam Yi Young (left), wife of the CEO of Maritme Port Authority, is a Type-A WIG craft with a unique reverse-delta wing configuration. It operates primarily in the ground-effect (GE) mode when it rides on a dynamically created cushion of air. It can also operate in the displacement mode (like a conventional ship) during take-off and landing, and during harbour movements like berthing and un-berthing.

It is environmentally friendly as it does not discharge any ballast or cooling water, greatly reducing the risk of contamination and pollution. Run by a powerful yet compact car engine that runs on 92 Octane automotive-grade gasoline, the Airfish 8 provides good fuel efficiency and low operating cost when compared to existing high speed marine crafts and sea-planes. In the event of an engine failure or other hardware failure, Airfish 8 lands itself safely, quickly and automatically come to complete stop in less than 500m after landing. When in GE mode, Airfish 8 has a cruising speed of up to 90knots and flies up to 6m above the surface of water. As such, the Airfish 8 offers high speed travel over water without the discomfort of motion sickness.