The Wing Ship Technology Corporation, a South Korean company, is trying to revive the wing in ground effect idea. South Korea’s armed forces have already agreed to buy some and the firm says it hopes to announce its first commercial sales (to an oil-and-gas firm and a Mediterranean ferry company) shortly.
In Korea, Wing Ship Technology Corporation has developed and tested a 50 seat passenger version of a WIG craft named the WSH-500 and they have a new design the WSH 1500.
The WSH500 turboprop and can carry 50 passengers. It has a catamaran-style hull and a reverse delta wing. Its cruising speed, 180kph (110mph), makes it faster than a jetfoil, its principal rival. And the production version will have a range of 1,000km.
A ground effect vehicle (GEV) is one that attains level flight near the surface of the Earth, making use of the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface known as ground effect. The ground effects makes flight more efficient and in theory would allow for very big planes with a lot more cargo. Best known are the Soviet ekranoplanes, 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 delta wing’s geometry amplifies the ground effect, allowing the new craft to cruise as high as five metres above the water’s surface. That means it is less likely to be confined to harbour by rough seas, which was one of the problems encountered by previous designs. It also launches itself by directing some of the airflow from the turbo props downwards, to create a temporary hovercraftlike effect until it is travelling forwards at full tilt. The difficulty of getting airborne was another bugbear of previous designs.
The ekranoplan had wingspan of 37.6 m, length – 92 m, maximum take-off weight – 544 tons. Until An-225 it was the largest aircraft in the world. It was designed to fly at an altitude of 5-10 meters in order to utilize the ground effect.
KM was designed as a special vehicle for the military and rescue teams. However designing such a machine caused serious difficulties. It was documented as a marine vessel and prior to the first flight a bottle of champagne was broken against its nose.
Boeing had the Pelican design for 1500 tons of cargo
The Boeing Pelican ULTRA (Ultra Large TRansport Aircraft) was a proposed ground effect fixed-wing aircraft under study by Boeing Phantom Works. Intended as a large-capacity transport craft for military or civilian use, it would have a wingspan of 500 feet (150 m), a cargo capacity of 1,400 tons (1,300 metric tonnes), and a range of about 10,000 nautical miles (18,000 km). Powered by four turboprop engines, its main mode would be to fly in ground effect 20–50 ft (6–15 m) over water, though it would also be capable of overland flight at an altitude as high as 20,000 ft (6,100 m) albeit with a decreased range of about 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km). It would operate from conventional runways, with its weight distributed over 38 fuselage-mounted landing gears with 76 wheels. There has not been any further information about this concept since 2002.