Turkish Operator Agrees to Buy a Fleet of Wing-in-Ground Craft

Courtesy Wigetworks

Published Mar 4, 2024 10:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Singaporean aerospace joint-venture AirX has signed a letter of intent with a Turkish operator for the sale of 10 wing-in-ground aircraft, bringing a long-discussed transport mode a step closer to commercial reality. 

WIG craft have substantial advantages over airplanes: they are easier to fly, carry more weight for equivalent fuel consumption, and take off and land from any calm body of water. Despite the benefits, the concept has struggled to get off the ground in the commercial market - until recently. 

AirX, a partnership between conglomerate ST Engineering and technology firm Wigetworks, is one of several firms reviving the WIG concept for the modern era. The JV's AirFish 8 is a 10-seat WIG craft with a payload of up to 2,900 pounds. It has a range of about 250-300 nautical miles at a cruising speed of about 80 knots. 

Turkish operator Eurasia Mobility Solutions has signed an agreement to buy 10 of these unique aircraft, plus options for another 10 later. According to Aviation Week, the order could be worth up to $30 million, depending on specifications. The first entry into service would be around 2025. 

ST Engineering is also considering naval applications. The craft could be deployed in support of special forces missions, amphibious operations or payload deliveries. 

The U.S. military is examining similar concepts, but at considerably greater scale. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) "Liberty Lifter" project intends to develop a large-capacity, low-cost wing-in-ground aircraft that could transport heavy payloads over vast distances. The aim is to develop a WIG craft that can carry as much as a C-17 cargo aircraft, but operate on the water in conditions up to Sea State 6. Two teams are working on competing designs, and the detailed design and construction phase should begin later this year.