Design and Construction of a Passenger Hovercraft

The purpose of our senior design project is to construct a functioning hovercraft designed through fundamental principles. Through this design project, we explore the process of engineering from initial design to product construction. We were forced plan around material limitations and time constraints. We produced a vehicle capable of hovering and forward motion.

A hovercraft is a vehicle capable of traveling over most surfaces on a cushion of air trapped under the body for lift. Air propellers, water propellers, or water jets usually provide forward propulsion. Air-cushion vehicles can attain higher speeds than can either ships or most land vehicles due to lower frictional forces and use much less power than helicopters of the same weight. Figure 1 above illustrates the operational principles and basic components of a typical hovercraft.

Specifically for our hovercraft, there are three main design groups: the lift, thrust, and steering systems. The arrangement of the hovercraft is similar to that shown in Figure 1. The propeller shown must be designed for a vehicle as typical fans act by creating vortices to mix the air, reducing the ejected air’s translational kinetic energy and significantly reducing efficiency. We outline key features of the three main groups below.
Source: Swarthmore College
Author: Kofi Anguah | Nick Szapiro

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