Like all vehicles, small hovercraft constructions can be separated into distinct categories, with sole aspects of them relating to two or more of these categories. Let's call them hull construction, skirt, engines, controls and fitments, just like any other mode of transport. Of course, the overall design scheme is to integrate these distinct systems into one whole unit that performs in the required manner - it must float and move forward carrying passengers in safety, easy to control and be economical to buy and run - a tall order!
How much is a personall hovercarft? Hovercraft prices have come down significantly because of constant development in each category and new ideas are appearing all the time. A major step forward occurred with the invention of new composite expanded plastic materials that enabled designers to incorporate new techniques to hull design. Traditionally, small ACV craft were built on glass fiver hulls, which were light and strong, but didn't react too well to shocks and bangs. Basically, they tend to split and are very difficult to repair properly. New plastic materials don't surrender their unit strength when one part of it is impacted by a rock, for example.
The skirt is another major design component and is the subject of much improvements at the present time. In the past, the skirt was fabricated with just one piece of material, and then fastened securely around the perimeter of the craft hull. The material used was often rubber based with interlacing cross layers of material. In other cases, rip-stop fabric was used similar to the sail cloth used on large sailing boats. One big drawback of using a one-piece design is that if the skirt is damaged, then it has to change out completely.
The latest skirt design have revolutionized the cost of damage by splitting it up into small sections. One company is using a for of Kevlar for this, which is extremely tough and durable. However, anything can get damaged in the right conditions. This company fastens the sections to the hull securely, but they are only fastened to it's neighboring section using cheap nylon tie-wraps. If one section is snagged, it simply breaks the tie-wraps. If it is damaged, then it's easily replaced by another section that can be carried in the spares cupboard. Modern small hovercraft hulls have a molded compartment to house the engines, either one or two, and a lid minimizes the noise while allowing maintenance access.
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