It isn't exactly the "Caspian Sea Monster", but the EK-14 wing in ground-effect vehicle certainly turned heads at MAKS.

The design of the EK-14 - by Moscow-based Industrial Composite - carries only 14 passengers, unlike the hundreds accommodated by the 290t Ekranoplans once operated by the Russian navy.

The company's commercial ambitions are also somewhat more modest than the Ekranoplan fleet. Andrey Nikolaevich, an EK-14 crew member, says the company's strategy depends on attracting interest from the Russian military, which has so far avoided investing in the project.



The company has sold three of the aircraft to a Chinese customer, Nikolaevich says, and three other examples have been delivered elsewhere.

Industrial Composite believes the crucial difference between the EK-14 and the short-lived Ekranoplans is a key design change. Unlike the wing-borne designs of previous such aircraft, the EK-14 is designed to use the fuselage itself as a primary lifting body, Nikolaevich says.

This subtle shift in design philosophy means the EK-14 can generate more lift than wing-only lifting bodies, potentially allowing the vehicle to avoid obstacles on the water by flying slightly above ground-effect conditions.

For certification, Russian authorities consider the EK-14 a boat instead of an aircraft, despite its ability to fly out of ground-effect.

Source: Flight International