Hovercraft vs Airboat
First, let’s see into the terms.
Hovercraft is a craft capable of travelling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a “skirt.” It is powered by the engine, which due to the fan provide the cushion with air and also provide thrust for forward and reverse control. It’s really cross-country vehicle, which is capable to operate on any surface any season. It can freely move from water to dry land without touching the ground.
The term “hovercraft” has many synonyms. Here only some of them:
- Air-cushion vehicle
- Air-cushion vessel
- Hovering craft
- Surface-effect machine
- aerodynamic ground-effect craft
According to configuration we distinguish following types of the air cushion: chamber, nozzle, skegovaya, slot-type and foil (dynamic). Each of them have advantages and disadvantages, therefore they are used depending on objective.
According to payload hovercrafts are divided into small size, passenger and cargo. Dimensions of the amphibious hovercraft can greatly differ: it can be 2-seats vessel or a vessel which can hold 670 passengers.
According to versatility and applicability hovercrafts can be divided into following groups:
- For personal transport facility (for hunting, fishing, tourism);
- For coast guard – can be used for saving people in emergency and during natural disasters;
- For transportation people and freight (for example transportation of people and cargoes through the English Channel in 1967);
- For military applications – specially equipped vessels for carrying out military operation and landing of troops (for example, the landing ship of the project 12322 “Bison”, the boundary patrol cushioncraft the project 20910 “Chilim”).
ATV is English abbreviation for “all terrain vehicle”, which means off-roader. It is also known as three wheeler, four wheeler, quad bike or quad. This abbreviation is commonly used in English-speaking countries, because it’s simple and short. But in Russia there are a lot of synonyms of the word “quad”:
- Off-roader buggy
- Sport Utility Wagon
- off-road vehicle
- sport-utility vehicle (SUV)
- Four runner
Unfortunately, ATV is not street legal, but it is effective for navigating rocky, muddy and root covered terrain.
Yamaha, Honda, Polaris, BRP (Bombardier), Argo are major ATV manufactures.
Hovercrafts can be used for different objectives (sport, hunting, row) and there is also smaller version for children.
ATV is a universal vehicle, to which the season and the road condition are not important. We should notice that quads are capable to travel such roads that even crawler-type vehicle can’t drive through. As a rule the petrol engine of 15-40 or more h. p. capacity is located into ATV. The effort from the engine is transferred to all four wheels and also steering to forward wheels.
Motor-cross-country vehicles can be of several classes:
- sports (for races, entertainment);
- working or utilitarian – the necessity of rough riding;
- children’s (smaller and easier).
So let’s sum up: what is the similarity and difference between these kinds of vehicle?
Vehicle registration: ATV as well as snowmobile is registered in Russian State Technical Authority. Driving license is also got there. ATV is not street legal but it is quite possible to enjoy your time on mud-locked roads.
Hovercraft is registered in the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels of Russian Emergency Ministry. There you can also get the certificate, which allow you to drive small size vessels. In reality the vessel registration and getting driving license procedure is strongly depend on the region of the Russian Federation, where the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels of Russian Emergency Ministry is located.
Impassibility of roads. Everyone knows that hovercraft and ATV can travel street roads and off-roads, however there are some differences. Travelling street roads by hovercraft is not recommended as the abrasive surface of the road leads to fast damage of the material of the skirt. But it is quite possible for ATV. Also in cross-country conditions hovercraft needs more or less level travel surface for pressure maintenance in the skirt. While driving through strong roughnesses some backlashes between the surface and the skirt occur, that leads to pressure falling and disability of the hovercraft to move. As for ATV, it can travel almost everywhere and sometimes incredible demonstrations of this are carried out. That is a great advantage of ATV.
However hovercrafts has some significant advantages than ATV- that is its amphibious features. Hydroskimmers are capable to travel any smooth surface (grass, sand, snow, ice or even water). Quads will manage, perhaps, everything except water. Quads are totally overland vehicle even if it can cope with a bog, but not a large reservoir.
While skimming the water surface the buoyancy of the vessel is quite important. What happens if the engine conks out or the necessity to stop will occur? How will the hovership behave? Everything depends on the reliability and liability of the producer. For example, all Christy Hovercraft vessels possess absolute buoyancy.
It becomes obvious that aircushion vessels and off-roaders are vehicles of different application and objective. However they are related by their owners’ enthusiasm for extreme sport. And who among the Russians doesn’t like fast driving?
Speed. It’s undoubtedly very dangerous to develop high speed on off-roads. But it’s possible to compare speeds of these vehicles on straight open areas. Hovercraft or flying boat is capable to accelerate momentum till hundred or more kilometers per hour. Basically, the maximum speed is limited not by the engine capacity but driver’s experience. The truth is that that the vehicle not highly but flies above the surface and the friction is minimum. Therefore the brake system should be connected with air instead of the ground. Modern flying boats of such manufactures as Neoteric Hovertrek, Christy Hovercraft and others are equipped with system of reversive damper for braking. They allow to operate effectively the vehicle and even to move backwards.
The maximum quad speed as a rule reaches 60-70 km/h. It’s obvious that high speed is not its privilege. But mountain climbing can be rather extreme kind of rest.
Finally, we should say that flying boats and the motor-cross-country vehicle are both high grade off-roaders. However they demonstrate their strong points in different conditions.
Hovercraft is wired for level travel surfaces, amphibious features and high speed are its privilege. ATV is exclusively used on dry land, it can maximum be used in bogs but on the ground (mountains, slopes, roughnesses) it surpasses aeroboats in cross-country abilities.