Timeline and Problems of Wing-in-Ground Craft Building: from Volga-2 Motorboat to Aerospace Systems
This article is the result of analyzing the situation with the new hybrid vehicle called wing-in-ground (WIG) craft. These craft combine the characteristics of both, waterborne and flight vehicles but are currently classified as marine craft, which is done according to the Interim Guidelines for Wing-in-Ground (WIG) Craft put in effect by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO has decided to work according to this document on the basis of the inexpert and technically unjustified definition proposed by a correspondent group of specialists from Russia’s shipbuilding industry, “WIG craft is a flying vessel”. The Guidelines were elaborated for a simplified WIG craft certification procedure and contain the conditions and requirements necessary for designing and certifying displacement ships. However, the document contains no conditions for providing safety in flight which is the main operational mode of WIG craft. Moreover, this document contains many mistakes, mismatches, and simply contrived assumptions. This manual cannot help design a vehicle with a required level of safety in all modes. Currently, there is no common worldwide understanding of the niche for WIG craft among other vehicles; nor there are any common respective engineering requirements and rules of certification and release to service. The WIG craft service and maintenance infrastructure remains undeveloped and untested. WIG craft are high-speed vehicles of enhanced danger. Many organizations have tried to create them, though not always had enough theoretical and practical experience for this purpose and continue to follow the far-from-perfect Interim Guidelines. The steps to radically correct the current situation must be taken as soon as possible. This study is aimed at warning organizations and individuals, that take to designing WIG craft, that the IGWIGC in effect cannot be used to create safe-in-operation WIG craft. In addition, the IMO and ICAO must pay attention to the need for urgently adopting the joint guidelines on WIG craft safety. It is also necessary to solve a number of organizational issues related to WIG craft building.