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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hovercraft - Opportunity India lost

Hovercraft is a vehicle that can travel on land , water , mud, ice , sand and other surfaces. A hovercraft it a hybrid vehicle and interestingly it is operated by a pilot rather than a driver. When the hovercraft travels, it is above the surface by a few centimetres. This is achieved by blowing air below the hull, so there is a layer of air between the surface and the craft when it is in motion. Hence the craft travels with very little friction since it is not in contact with the surface at all. 

Today hovercraft is used in defense, in times of natural calamities, in sports etc. Coast guards and life guards on seashores use hovercraft to save people's lives. Hovercraft can be useful means of transportation in locations where seas or other bodies tend to freeze during winter. In England, there are hovercraft like pitch covers that are used in cricket fields, the covers won't touch the pitch, hence it does not do any damage to the pitches. The military uses hovercrafts to quickly transport ammunition and if needed launch attacks as well.

A Russian military hovercraft
A US Navy Hovercraft
In the late 1950s and early 1960s India's DTD&P started a project of building an indigenous Hovercraft. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam headed the team , they successfully built an hovercraft that was named Nandi. 

However APJ was left disappointed and disillusioned when this particular project was shelved. Even today India imports hovercrafts or manufactures hovercrafts jointly with some overseas company. Had the project not been shelved then, India would have been a leader in hovercraft technology. We would not only be manufacturing hovercrafts but also exporting them. 

This is the hovercraft developed by APJ Abdul Kalam's team.


  1. It may be perhaps to many that an Indian company by name SICO (The Scientific Instrument Co) was the only manufacturer of hovercrafts in Asia. The SICO hovercrafts have been used by Indian Navy, Coast Guard as well as various tourism boards in the late 80's and 90's. These hovercrafts were co developed with an American company called NEOTERIC.

    These hovercrafts were primarily 2, 4 and 6 seater variants and a 15 seater was developed along with DRDO (though never produced). Dr APJ Abdul Kalaam has contributed in its design too.

    SICO hovercrafts/ components were also exported. SICO was perhaps ahead of time and active support from Government could see it again revive its Hovercraft business line under 'Make in India' program

  2. Thanks Rakesh for the information .

    Son of Late Shri V.M.K Swamy -General Manager
    The Scientific Instrument Co. LTD

  3. It has been mentioned in the "Wings of fire" written by Dr. Kalam.

  4. Yes we should expedite capacity build up to meet enormous opportunity to solve many problems of transport especially the water locked and un navigable rver and water fronts by general public by currently available means in INDIA