Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Amazing! No Call For Nimrod

A rowing boat "Sarah G"crossing the Atlantic was split in two by heavy seas and the crew of six had to take to the liferaft the other day. The oarsmen were rescued some 500 miles east of Barbados by a Panamanian registered freighter and another ship diverted by coastguards.

In 2004 a rowing boat "Pink Lady" broke in two 300 miles west of the Scilly Islands and the crew of four was safely recued by a cruise ship. There were questions raised about the strength of the hull. Were any lessons learned incorporated into the design of subsequent boats like Sarah G?  It's an important question because capsizing and sinking is quite common for ocean rowing boats.

But what is clear is that Nimrods would have been of little use beyond dropping Lindholme Air Sea Rescue gear and orbiting as a comms relay for rescue coordination. Even a flying boat would have been unable to land and take off in seas with waves greater than 4 feet for the Beriev Be-200  or ten feet, for the ShinMaywa US-2 .

What's needed is a turbofan-powered wing in ground effect aircraft (Ekranoplan is the best known type) with a central stores bay able to accommodate a short range hoist-equipped rescue helicopter, say a Eurocopter 135 fitted with folding main rotor blades on a scissor-lift lauch and recovery pad with haul down capability. The stores bay would open on the upper surface of the aircraft (of blended wing body configuration) by means of a tambour roller shutter. The mother aircraft "Maia" would require a wide speed range for rapid transit to and from the emegency and recovery of the much slower "Mercury" helicopter component.

A-90 Orlyonok Ekranoplan

Blended Wing-Body Boeing X-48B

Who knows, the aircraft could even look a bit like the Armstrong Whitworth AW52.

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