Mr Tseitlin suggested that 2 billion passengers used fast ferries today and that population growth and new route development would see this expand to 3 billion passengers by 2030. Historically, he said, up to 30% of hydrofoils delivered had been Soviet-built; 650 high speed passenger vessels would be built in the period up to 2035.
However, hydrofoils were not appropriate for larger capacities of 120-350 persons, where "increased size can mean lower navigational efficiency." Instead, a niche market for 60 vessels with capacity for 60-70 persons was ripe for new generation Sea Knife hydrofoils. Aviatika believed yacht service and emergency vessels represented the most promising initial markets.
The 31m length by 8.6m width, 36,500dwt vessel Mr Tseitlin described to NEVA would achieve 48.6 knots and was proposed in two versions - one featuring twin screw propellers and the other using water jets. Potential customers could opt for "the classic sea knife of the 1960s" or a new design featuring underwater wings which could 'auto-adjust' to account for conditions, made of aluminium or 20-30% lighter composite materials.
Reviving interest in the Sea Knife had attracted Eximbank to the project, with research support from Krylov State Research Centre and market studies by United Shipbuilding Corporation. Negotiations were under way with Volga Shipyard and aluminium company Rusal to bring the concept to reality, Mr Tseitlin said. His presence at NEVA 2017 represented an open invitation to new partners, while the design bureau would also apply for state funding to advance the project further.
With model testing under way in 2017, Mr Tseitlin said work would be submitted to the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and the Indian Register for scrutiny in 2018, with the first ship building envisaged 2020-2021, and worldwide marketing planned for 2021-23.