The hovercraft system is one of the most important components of the hovercraft and allows the hovercraft to clear obstacles. There are several types of skirts but the most common for light hovercraft are the loop skirt and the segment skirt. The Air Rider Hovercraft uses a combination of loop and segment skirt systems.
Hybrid Skirt System
Developed for the Air Rider inflatable hull hovercraft
The Air Rider Hovercraft hybrid skirt features the stability of the loop skirt and the frontal non buffeting smooth ride of the segment skirt. Also, this type of skirt system is not prone to snagging in shallow stony rivers or undulating terrain.
Urethane film is laminated to the lower section of the loop which prevents abrasion and offers long life to the skirt loop section. Also, the lower loop sides are fitted with anti-spray extension flaps which eliminate enveloping spray across the passenger area at speed.
The tall front V-design segments, offer the Air Rider Hovercraft very good ride flexibility in turbulent water. The design also offers low spray characteristics for clear frontal visibility.
Light Hovercraft Skirt Systems
Parallel Loop Skirt
The enclosed loop skirt (sometimes referred to as a bag) encircles the total perimeter of the craft. Air is fed from the compressor lift fan to the loop and to the underside of the hull. The air fed to the loop is pressured, and forms the loop skirt shape to contain the air that is fed to the underside of the hull. The air to the underside of the hull creates an air cushion that lifts the hovercraft.
The segmented skirt (sometimes referred to as a finger skirt) consists of several separate fabric sections that, when inflated from the compressor lift fan, press together to form a continuous curtain around the hull. These segments are fed individually by air from the compressor lift fan or, collectively fed by air from the pressured air cushion under the hull.
The loop and segment skirt systems both have their good and not so good elements.
The loop skirt offers very good hovercraft stability; however, when operating on water, the frontal area will cause buffeting in chopping water, waves and turbulent river rapids.
The segmented skirt offers a much smoother ride into chopping water, waves and turbulent river rapids; however, craft stability is poor. Also, to the rear of the hovercraft the segments are prone to catch, snag and detach from the hull in shallow stony rivers or undulating terrain.
The Air Rider Hovercraft Hybrid Skirt offers non buffeting into chopping water with excellent stability and, is not prone to snagging.
Skirt Comparison (Experience of Nigel Golding: 40 years light hovercraft design & use)
|Performance||Loop||Segment||Air Rider hovercraft Hybrid|
|Speed||good||moderate||moderate to good|
|Drag: smooth water||same||same||same|
|Drag: rough water||high||low||moderate|
|Stony braided rivers||very good||moderate||excellent|