This interactive map contains some examples of route lines suitable for operation of EP-15 cargo/passenger ekranoplan.
As any mean of transport, WIG craft has its operational limitations and peculiarities so in a view to use it most efficiently and competitively first it is necessary to identify the routes and areas where its usage will be the most advantageous. While analyzing the application opportunities of WIGs operators need to bear in mind that it is merely a kind of a high-speed ship, so it competes with other vessels (+ hovercrafts and other HSCs), airplanes and helicopters (those that can serve the water route if the appropriate infrastructure is present).
The cruising speed is about 150 - 200 kmh so it is almost senseless to use these vehicles on the line less than 50 km regarding logistics efficiency. Moreover, such a speed level makes it challenging to use the craft in the water areas with the dense sea traffic (bay of some big city, etc.)
The general principle is that WIG is the most efficient on the route where:
- Distance by water is considerably less than by land or the only possible way (this factor removes on-land transport from the competition) Absence of alternative on-land routes is essential to exclude railways and automotive transport from competition (so the WIG craft competes with other vessels, airplanes and helicopters);
- The line total distance is not less than 50 km so high speed obtains the practical meaning for the passenger, but not more than 700 km, where that standard passenger airplane becomes the more reasonable option. We consider the diapason of 50 - 300 km is the optimal niche for ekranoplan operation as on those distances it may stay the most competitive in comparison with other fast vessels and aircraft;
- The overall passenger turnover is enough to provide the share of those who are ready to pay the premium for the speed transport. Total population on the route not less than 400 thousand people (to make sure there’s enough potential traffic for at least one ekranoplan unit).
These points are related to the passenger and cargo transport network analysis. Naturally, search-and-rescue operations, sea patrol and security operations have the other set of the feasibility criteria that are determined by the national authorities according to their tasks.