Can retired aircraft be modified to be used as ground effect aircraft?
Assuming that a majority of the airliners are retired mainly due to the toll on their fuselages from repeated pressurization-depressurization cycles; can these aircraft still be used if they don’t have to undergo pressurization cycles, i.e. can they be used if they are required to fly only a few feet off the ground thus avoiding the pressurization issues?
Next question: is it possible to modify a MD-8X(DC-9X) or a 727 or any other rear engined airliner to take pontoons instead of landing gears? (Assuming that suitable pontoons are designed and suitable structural reinforcements can be made)
If the answer to my above two questions is yes, can such a modified aircraft be used as a wing in ground effect aircraft?
My ultimate point is, a lot of MD-8X’s will be retired in the next few years and so will most of the remaining 727’s. So if such a modification as described above is possible and my initial assumption (regarding retirement of airliners) is right, then can these modified aircraft be used as inter-island/port to port/coast to coast, ground effect aircraft/ferries? Potentially replacing watercraft.
Would they be attractive enough in terms of cost?
Will they have a CASM comparable to ferries? Considering that the modified aircraft has been bought for a fraction of its original price since it has paid for itself and going to be retired
The challenges involved (that I can think of):
1. Modifying the aircraft to take on pontoons instead of landing gear
2. Corrosion on engine parts and other aircraft parts due to salt water
3. Wings are optimized to be most efficient at higher speeds, hence lower efficiencies (if the wing can be replaced with a purpose designed wing then even better)
1. An aircraft with pontoons will probably have its max speed limited to a speed even lower than the gear down velocity (faster than a watercraft but still not fast enough)
2. Navigation w.r.t water based traffic viz. other watercraft
3. Passenger boarding, baggage handling, fueling, misc. airport related operation issues.
4. Noise both inside aircraft and to the surroundings, due to jet engines being so close to the ground
Given this much:
Now is all this possible?
If it is possible what other challenges (technical/operational/other) could be faced in implementing such an idea?
Also another question at this juncture, why haven’t WiG aircraft caught on commercially? Are any technological breakthroughs or technologies required to make them an operational reality?
For those of you new to WiG here are a hew references:
Introduction to WiGs:
Caspian Sea Monster, Ekranoplans & WIG Vehicles (by Starship Mar 11 2000 in Civil Aviation)
A Wingship Would Crush The A3XX. (by MD-90 Jul 28 2000 in Civil Aviation)
Commercial Aspects of WiG:
Does what I say make sense or have I been smoking something?