“As well as giving an insight from myself,” explained Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, “we will be introducing you to our engineers, pilots, crew and other staff to give you updates into this momentous project.”
Following on from Freedom 90 being used as part of Griffon Hoverwork’s sea trials programme on the sandbanks just off the shore at Ryde last week, this craft will be tested at Griffon and on the Solent, possibly visiting Ryde and Southsea, over the next four to six weeks. Once these are completed, the first craft will be delivered to Ryde for a further two to three month period of comprehensive training with Hovertravel.
Neil adds: “We will be training pilots, engineers, crew and staff, as well as conducting loading trials during this time. This programme is a safety critical element of the introduction of our new fleet and it is essential to note that until this is completed to the satisfaction of the Marine & Coastguard Agency, we will not be able to use the craft for customers.“
Following a recent Hovertravel User Group (HUG) meeting, here are some questions and answers which have already been raised:
- Why is it white?
The new craft are currently plain white as the branding is applied just a few days before they are delivered to us. The new livery is dynamic and exciting and will make a great impact on and off the water.
- What is its capacity?
The new craft can carry 80 passengers, and as you know we are the only ferry crossing company for foot passengers that allows you to book your seat to make sure your preferred time is secured for your comfort.
- Will bikes be allowed on board?
Yes, we will be carrying bikes, although the exact number will determined by the loading trials in April.
- Will the new fleet be more reliable?
We are going to see a number of efficiencies, but as with any new car, train or plane there will be a time required for the craft to settle in.
- When will it be in service?
It has always been our aim to have both new craft running our timetable in the summer. We are currently on schedule to achieve this aim and expect to have both craft operational in the early part of the summer.
Hovertravel is keen to receive further questions about the new craft via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and is urging anyone interested in the project to follow the progress on Hovertravel’s Facebook and Twitter.