Ground effect is an aerodynamic principle that aircraft experience when flying close to the earth’s surface—either over ground or water. The phenomenon takes hold when operating within a distance of one wingspan from the surface. The surface alters the flow field around the wing, resulting in reduced drag and an increase in lift. In simple terms, reduced drag leads to better energy efficiency and increased lift lets the craft carry heavier payloads.
Ground effect is caused by two phenomena:
1. When a wing is flown close to the ground, drag-inducing wingtip vortices are interrupted by the ground and unable to form effectively because of the obstruction. The result is lower induced drag, which increases the speed and lift of the aircraft.
2. Flying close to the surface creates a cushion of air under the wing that is generated by downwash from the wing, thus increasing lift.
Wing-in-ground-effect vessels are 30-50% more energy efficient than similar-sized aircraft and travel ten times faster than conventional boats. Our Flying Ships combine cutting-edge developments in autonomy with proven commercial-off-the-shelf materials and technology to provide the first-ever unmanned ground effect delivery vehicles. Initial variants will feature fully electric engines with a range of 500nm and a cargo capacity of 1200kg. Future variants will be larger, incorporating alternative, green propulsion technologies to increase range and capacity to 1000nm and 2700kg. Initially semi-autonomous, Flying Ships will transition to fully autonomous operations.