Hovercraft, The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) & CE Marks

added by russ on November 3, 2015 at 10:25

We often get asked whether our hovercraft are 'CE' marked or not – the answer isn't quite straightforward, read on to find out.

Background

In the EU, marine vessels sold new by a manufacturer for recreational or pleasure purposes have to conform with Directive 94/25/EC, known as the Recreational Craft Directive, or RCD. This directive sets out the minimum technical and environmental standards for marine vehicles between 2.5m and 24m, ensuring they are 'suitable' for sale within the EU. The RCD was amended in 2003 by Directive 2003/44/EC which brought personal watercraft (ie Jet bikes/Jet skis) into the RCD. The directive also includes marine engines and some components. From January 2016, a new Directive, 2013/53/EU, replaces the current legislation but is basically the same and is aimed at reducing emissions.

 Exclusions

 Below is a list of vessels excluded from the RCD (taken from the RCD text.)

 craft intended solely for racing, including rowing racing boats and training rowing boats labelled as such by the manufacturer; or

 canoe and kayak, gondola or pedalo; or

 sailing surfboard; or

 powered surfboard or other similar powered craft

 original, and individual replica of a historical craft designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the manufacturer; or

 experimental craft, provided it is not subsequently placed on the Community market; or

 craft built for own use, provided it is not subsequently placed on the Community market during a period of five years; or

 craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes, regardless of the number of passengers or

 submersible; or

 air cushion vehicle; or

 hydrofoil.

See it down there second from the bottom? Hovercraft are air-cushion vehicles (ACV.) So, in short – neither we, nor any other manufacturer can CE mark our hovercraft under the RCD, as ACV's are not eligible. Having checked the forthcoming legislation, we can confirm that they remain excluded from the new 2013/53/EU directive as well.

 Options

Two years back, BHC approached the European authorities and opened a dialogue aimed at either including ACV's or allowing us to voluntarily claim compliance and plate our craft accordingly. However, the ACV market is too small to interest Europe and we were refused. So, we looked into other directives, the only one of which seemed at all relevant was the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Again, following extensive discussions, the answer was a 'no.'

We lobbied the EU to include ACV's in the new legislation due to the growing market – but as stated above, ACV's remain excluded.

 So where does that leave us?

A number of boat builders have told us that we're lucky that we do not have to comply with the RCD and the inevitable administration that goes with it. However, our ambition for the hovercraft industry is such that we're looking at the big picture and the long term growth of both the industry and our own business. We've certainly lost a few sales over the years due to the fact we cannot claim compliance with the RCD, but generally this has been due to the misunderstanding that the craft should be compliant.

However, with very few exceptions, and in all the main areas of safety, our craft do comply with the standards of the RCD. The only area we may struggle is with the stipulated noise levels, marginal on the Snapper & Marlin but the Coastal-Pro is comfortably within limits.

So what's that CE plate I see on the dashboard then? 

Although – as established – we cannot claim compliance with the RCD, ACV's do still need to comply with the standards of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive 2004/108/EC. This directive basically confirms that a product sold within the EU is not causing excessive electromagnetic interference, nor is effected by the same. So, back in 2013, we put our craft through the necessary tests and compiled a conformance file. Following a meeting with Kent Trading Standards, we started to affix a compliance plate to all our craft.

Are BHC craft built to a standard? 

Of course! Back in 2012, we approached the MCA to introduce a set of standards for small hovercraft. Initially rebuffed, we eventually got our way, and together with Griffon Hoverwork of Southampton, we established a manufacturers association and got the MCA to the table to start work on the 'Hovercraft Code of Practice.' Three years, many hours, miles and meetings later and the code is due to be introduced anytime soon (it's currently going through public consultation) and sets out standards for small craft up to 24m in length. It's our fervent hope that the legislation will be adopted by other countries in due course.

All our craft are built to the standards of the HcoP and marked accordingly alongside the conformity statement for 2004/108/EC and this – in truth – is a more relevant build standard than the generic RCD could hope to provide. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this document will explain what is possible, why hovercraft cannot be CE Marked, what standards BHC craft meet and what we've done to establish the build quality of our products.To the best of our knowledge, BHC manufacture the only hovercraft that conform to any formal standards - at least nobody else claims compliance with the HcoP or 2004/108/EC. We were the company that started the ball rolling to introduce the HcoP, we've discussed voluntary inclusion into the RCD , explored options and as such, we believe our products conform with all existing legislation and exceed the industry standards of the HcoP. 

If you need to know more, do please call us.

Sample Plate

 

 

Hovercraft Torture Testing - Torrential Rain, High Winds & Salt Water!

added by russ on October 7, 2014 at 08:15

What were we thinking? It was Carl's fault, he wanted to spend his birthday out on his hover. The weather forecast was for 25mph gusts and torrential rain. For once they got it right. Together with 3 Marlin II's, it was also the first time out in such terrible conditions for the new Coastal-Pro MACV.

We returned some three hours and 20 miles later very cold, and soaked through to the unmentionables - but we did prove that our craft can take pretty much anything you can throw at them!

Take a look at the video, and leave a comment/like it (if you do!)

Flying Fish Marlin III, Coastal-Pro and BBV500 hovercraft are ready for marine usage. Days like this teach you plenty and having experienced many of them over the years, we know our hovercraft perform extremely well even in the worst conditions.

The Coastal-Pro is the new 2014 3-4 Seat Hovercraft from Flying Fish which is designed for the commercial market. With Hovercraft legislation having completely changed in 2014, small hovercraft can now be used for a huge range of intertidal and shallow water applications such as water sampling, nearshore survey,Water Quality Sampling (Benthic, WFD, Plankton sampling,) Intertidal Fish Stock Monitoring (Seine and Fyke netting) Ecological Survey,Tidal Flow Monitoring,Accoustic Survey (Hydrophone) Bank Erosion Surveys, Bridge and Structural Surveys, wildlife Monitoring such as bird, seal & cetacean and habitat survey.
One day, who knows, maybe the Coastguard will finally see sense and buy some hovercraft for Mud Rescue!

 

Current Pricing 2014, ask for full pricing.

Complete Component Sets to build your own Snapper or Marlin II from £5000+VAT
Marlin Hovercraft - New - from £8750.00+VAT
Coastal-Pro from £19,950.00+VAT

We now have the go ahead from the MCA - commercial operations for small hovercraft are a 'go!'

added by russ on June 20, 2014 at 09:00

After some two years of negotiations with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), we have finally been given the formal confirmation in writing - that Ultralight Hovercraft (up to 500kgs) may engage in certain commercial activity without a requirement for coding/certification.

 Not to be too crass about it - this means that using small hovercraft for paying work is now possible!

 To clarify the situation, I've bullet-pointed the situation below.

 

 Uses / Operations

Survey, inspection & maintenance.

Mud & Water Sampling

Geo-technics

Standby & Support

Security & Patrol

Weed Spraying

Nature monitoring/bird counts etc

Any application not involving paying passengers.

 

Operating Areas & Restrictions

Intertidal Areas

Estuaries and Rivers

Tidal Mudflats

Saltings & Marshes

Up to 1/2 a mile from the shore (beyond catagorised waters)

Within 3 miles of a safe haven (obviously, 80% of beaches are a safe haven in a hovercraft!)

Daylight/favourable weather.

 

Hovercraft Specification

Less than 500kgs unladen weight.

Built in compliance with the Hovercraft Code of Practice (HCoP)

Certified to be compliant by manufacturer.

Maximum of four persons (no paying passengers)

 

Operator's Qualifications

RYA Powerboat 2 or equivalent (two day course/exam)

 

Valid From

 June 19th 2014

Hovercraft Availability

The new Coastal-Pro is due for release in approximately 4 weeks and has been designed specifically for commercial applications and of course, to comply with the new HCoP.

We do still have a one off - the last of the current Coastal-Pro models available at a bargain price - so be quick if you're interested at £13,500.00+VAT!

This is a huge step forward for the industry and a fabulous opportunity for those who wish to be 'in at the beginning' and exploit the commercial opportunity it presents. There is genuinely now a viable, safe and cost effective solution to operations on mud flats, saltings, marshlands, beaches - with operating costs LOWER than equivalent conventional boats. Flying Fish have been very much at the forefront during the two years developing the HCoP and obviously we're delighted that it has finally been adopted by the MCA.

If you'd like a PDF copy of the HCoP, or wish to know more, please call or email Russ at Flying Fish.

Email :               russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk

Telephone :        01304 619820

 

 

 

 

Some of the historical 'haunts' on the River Medway.

added by Emma on March 20, 2014 at 07:14

The Medway is a spectacular river for those interested in maritime history. Last weekend, we used small hovercraft to explore some of the more interesting sites. There's still lots to see in the tidal area leading right up to Allington Lock. Check back for more updates as we explore this fascinating intertidal world!

 

View the video on  Youtube


www.flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk
0044 (0)1304 619820

Mercier-Jones Hovercraft - I'm calling you out!

added by Emma on March 18, 2014 at 07:21

 

 

The hovercraft community is pretty small, and the industry manufacturing them even smaller. So it's been very frustrating to watch the hype surrounding the Mercier-Jones hovercraft which has been created in Chicago and has secured so many column inches of newsprint over the last year or two.

It's fair to say, it looks very striking, and the manufacturers have clearly spent their money on the design, styling and marketing, which has landed them huge amounts of coverage in the media. Mercier-Jones  modestly claim the aesthetic inspiration of high end sports cars like Bugatti Veyrons & Audi R8's and make some incredible claims as to its performance and how their product will revolutionise an 'old-fashioned' industry. This is 'the future of personal transportation' apparently and it's amazing new system of steering paves the way for a 'street- legal' version… oh please, its vectored thrust, it's not new, it doesn’t work and the day will never come when one of these things drives legally down the road in a civilized country.

They claim 'hybrid technology' - Ah! All those batteries will explain why - at 400kgs plus - it's far too heavy for its size, leading to an unrealistic skirt pressure which means, it quite simply cannot work - these guys might be geniuses for all I know, but they can’t defeat physics.   

My hobby - away from building recreational and small commercial hovercraft - is racing them. I race in Formula 2 - my craft weighs half what the Mercier-Jones does, and has three times the horsepower. I reckon its good for 60mph. You should see what the 200kg Formula 1's can do with their 200bhp engines.  Take a look here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6YHz6YwlBo and you'll get the idea!

I doubt the bespoke, lightweight 200bhp hovercraft in this video are achieving much above 70mph, yet the Mercier Jones is faster than these apparently! "With top speeds estimated at over 80 MPH and acceleration that will rival it’s supercar cousins, Mercier-Jones hopes to handily beat the hovercraft land-speed record this summer of 56.25 mph and go after the water-speed record of 86.5 mph." It's rather like claiming your Dacia Duster will lap Spa Francochamps faster than Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.

Unfortunately, Mercier-Jones aren’t the first company to flood the hovercraft market with ridiculous claims  The industry seems to have attracted lots of bullsh****rs over the years. They tend to come and go, usually leaving an investor or two considerably poorer.  But I have to say, this is certainly the most far-fetched, unrealistic  and misleading set of claims I've seen in my 30 years involvement with hovercraft. I'm sure their intentions are honest and this is a huge misunderstanding on my behalf.  

One of the outrageous claims that Mercier-Jones make is that their hovercraft works.

And that's an outrageous claim because….  it doesn’t! Look here for their test video….

http://www.independenttribune.com/news/concord/video_60c6a380-1ffb-11e3-8213-0019bb30f31a.html

There it is in a pond on the end of a rope (maybe that’s what they mean when they claim it's fly-by-wire?) in a big ball of spray hovering no more than one inch off the ground!  It's a fair way from this to their 87mph ambitions, that hovercraft does not produce a thrust ratio "which is slightly better than the supersonic B-2 Stealth Spirit" I've got to ask, what exactly are they celebrating at the end? That nobody drowned?

They claim the first craft will be delivered in May 2014, really? Who would witness this and splash out $75,000 on something which obviously doesn’t work? I've only ever seen one real one on film - everything else has been computer generated images.

You may well have picked up on the fact that I'm angry about this and may ask why. Well, it's not jealousy, (though I wouldn’t mind my company getting 1/10th the press coverage they've managed!) but I know just how much damage the Mercier Jones may cause the industry with their high profile shenanigans.  As secretary of the 'Hovercraft Manufacturers Association' (HMA) I'm very keen to mature and develop this nascent industry. Together with our some of our members, I've spent two years dealing with the UK Authorities to develop a new 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' and we're constantly lobbying government organisations and commercial operators who've had bad experiences with small hovercraft - and are firmly of the opinion that they simply don’t work. The Mercier Jones is simply going to further that opinion - negatively impacting on honest manufacturers and operators who are trying to develop their own businesses.

What I don’t know is what the aim of this whole project is - they've already attracted some funding from the IndieGoGo website - is the ambition to attract more, whilst they draw a decent wage? The problem is that plenty of people are excited by the idea of a hovercraft (when I finally invent a hoverboard, I'll be richer than Bill Gates) and I've seen some rather naïve investors and overexcited buyers jump in without first checking their facts.

One thing's for sure, the Mercier Jones doesn't work - yet they claim they’re taking orders. And that worries me.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/mercier-jones/hovercraft/prweb11664961.htm

Michael Mercier, Chris Jones - I'm calling you out to protect my industry and the sport I love. My company manufactures and sells over 100 of those 'old fashioned' hovercraft each year, and I'm happy to take on any dynamic challenge you can come up with. Flying Fish hovercraft steer accurately, hover a foot above the ground, do 40mph and work with up to four people on board - you can see them on the internet cruising  on rivers and the sea, beaches, ice, snow, sand, mud and estuaries. Can you provide a single piece of evidence that any of your claims are justified?

Because, if your company is ever going to achieve  100 hovercraft sales a year, one thing is pretty important.

They need to work.

 

 

 

Three more Minnow Hovercraft leave tomorrow!

added by Emma on March 13, 2014 at 11:52

I'm pretty sure my toys weren't this much fun when I was a lad - a hoop - and a stick if I was lucky.

Anyway, three more Minnow Hovercraft leave us tomorrow for their lucky new owners. Enjoy yourself lads!

 

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

added by Emma on January 2, 2014 at 05:38

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

WANTED : General Manager / Accounts Manager for SE Kent based manufacturing company. Flying Fish manufactures around 100 small hovercraft each year, employs 20 people and exports to a dozen countries from our factory in Sandwich. In  order to achieve consistent, targeted, production deadlines, we need an experienced full-time manager to join the management team,  overseeing all aspects of production staff management including fibreglass hull manufacture, engineering and fitting out. In addition, the manager will be required to administer company book keeping and accounts, including VAT reconciliation and filing, deal with suppliers and customers and have knowledge of Quickbooks or similar accounts software.

This role will suit a mature and experienced person with a working mechanical knowledge, a management and accounts background and the ability to motivate and organise staff.
 
Flying Fish is a small but expanding company, and this is a key role - so  you'll need to display a flexible, committed and proactive approach which can assist the management team at the highest level.

The role is 40 hours per week, plus extra hours as required in busy times and the successful candidate will start at the end of January.

For more details, please send your CV to Emma or Russ at Flying Fish Hovercraft,  via email : russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk

Update to the MCA/Hovercraft Manufacturers/Hovercraft Club revisions to small hovercraft legislation

added by Emma on December 16, 2013 at 08:48

The continuing work on the new 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' was presented to the MCA last week at a very constructive meeting chaired by Simon Milne, manager of the MCA's Vessel Standards Branch. The meeting was attended by John Gifford and Russ Pullen from the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association (HMA,) and representatives from Lloyds, Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, The Hovercraft Trust and commercial hovercraft operators, Intertidal and Ecospan.

The draft code was warmly received by the MCA, with just a few relatively minor changes and clarifications being required. These changes will be submitted in the new year and it looks very much like the code will be usable from as early as April 2014 - though the actual legislation may take some while. What is clear is that the basic structure of the proposed code will be adopted - currently the categories that concern us here at Flying Fish are the Ultra-Light and Light hovercraft.

In short, 'Ultra-Light' hovercraft will be henceforth excluded from any MCA legislation when used for commercial (non-passenger) operations. Operating parameters will be tightly set - this is not an open door to operate in a 'cavalier' manner without any rules, but more of an acceptance that a small hovercraft operating on the shoreline is more akin to a piece of equipment than a marine vessel. Health & Safety legislation obviously dictates safe operations, and the code makes extensive recommendations as to construction/training etc, plus operators will still need a permit for most work. But this is a huge step forward and we're expecting UK sales of Coastal-Pro's to boom in 2014 as it's now a much clearer and more straightforward procedure to use a small hovercraft for commercial purposes.

The Code even extends to clarification of recreational, leisure and racing hovercraft with recommended technical standards for manufacturers and builders to consider. Obviously, we will ensure all Flying Fish hovercraft are compliant.

'Light Hovercraft' is the category that the BBV500 will fit into, safety, construction and operating parameters are wider reaching but it means there is a clear route for commercial operators to use a small hovercraft for passenger rides, taxi's etc.

Categories

Ultra Light : Up to 500kgs, maximum 4 Persons, no passengers.

Light : Up to 1000kgs, maximum 8 Persons including passengers.

Small : Over 1000kgs, less than 24m and up to 12 passengers.

Large : Adheres to the High Speed Code.

Below is a link to the draft code as presented. If it's of interest, do please take a look, but as stated above, it is subject to revision and cannot be considered as more than 'work in progress' at the present time.

Hovercraft Code of Practice Draft Revision 7 (08.11.13).pdf (1.88 mb)

If you'd like to know more, please don't hesitate to contact us. Email russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk or call on 01304 619820.

 

 

 

Somebody likes our hovercraft!

added by Emma on November 4, 2013 at 07:10

Overall, I guess we should be flattered! I'm pretty sure that whoever designed this game saw a photo of the RAF Coastal-Pro online!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtXhTmjGeFI&feature=youtu.be

 

Cholmondleley Pagaent of Power - Round 3 of the HCGB National Hovercraft Championships.

added by Emma on June 20, 2013 at 06:06

A superb weekend racing at Cholmondeley saw the Volantis Hovercraft Racing Team finish first in Formula 2 with four wins from four starts - so a pretty good weekend!

Having finished third on the first meeting of the year, and fist in the last two rounds, with three rounds gone, theVolantis Cobra of Russ Pullen now leads the championship. Now to keep up the momentum for the rest of the season!

Next stop, Claydon House on July 20/21st. This is followed by a European race meeting at Prudhomat in southern France a week later.

 

Formula Two          
no Team Magnol Hacket Cholmo season
99
Russ Pullen 17 25 25 67
31 Team Polfrey 20 17 20 57
71 Kevin Tunaley 11 13 14 38
47 Wayne Ravenhall 15 14 9 38
92 Section4 9 15 10 34
77 Bernie Hook 10   17 27
100 Team Razor   12 15 27
73 Double A Racing 13   13 26
316 Team Castrol 25     25
62 James Limburn 14 7   21
50 Team Goldney   20   20
80 Team Wiggin 8 6   14
63 Team Buzzwagon     12 12
83 Nice But Dim Racing 12     12
111 John Cotton     11 11
44 Andy Griffith   11   11
39 Phil Jakeman   10   10
40 Wayne Hill   9   9
32 Fred Wilson   8   8
95 Nationwide Fire 503 7     7
130 Geoff Sweetman 6     6

 

Video from the last Open Race of the weekend.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47XkXlY7-D0

 Photo below courtesy of Rhiannon Black Photography - thanks Rhi!


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