UK MCA has issued a Marine Guidance Note to introduce the new Hovercraft Code which has been developed for Light and Small hovercraft operating in the United Kingdom or United Kingdom Waters (both at sea and on inland waterways).
Currently all hovercraft used for reward must be built to the requirements of the High Speed Craft (HSC) Code. The Hovercraft Code introduces a voluntary set of standards appropriate for small commercial hovercraft, which are equivalent to the HSC requirements.
Where a hovercraft is surveyed and certificated under, and continues to comply with, this Code, it is exempted from those parts of the Hovercraft (General) Order 1972 and the Merchant Shipping (High Speed Craft) Regulations 2004 which require the hovercraft to be surveyed and certificated against the British Hovercraft Safety Requirements (BHSR) and the IMO High Speed Craft Code. The General Exemption is annexed to this MGN.
The Hovercraft Code may be voluntarily applied, from the date of publication, to Small Hovercraft, which are those under 24m in length hard structure and carrying no more than 12 passengers and no more than 15 persons in total.
The Code also provides standards for Light Hovercraft, a sub set of Small Hovercraft further limited to hovercraft that are less than 1,000kg unladen weight, less than 12m in length and carrying no more than 8 persons in total.
Light Hovercraft used for Reward but deemed not to be “engaged in navigation” because of their tightly constrained operations may come under the definition Ultra- Light Hovercraft.
The Hovercraft Code provides standards for Ultra-Light Hovercraft which are of less than 500kg unladen weight, carrying a crew of not more than 4 and no passengers or cargo (other than activity related equipment).
The Code also provides standards which, in opinion of the industry working group, may be appropriate for operators to select to use for Ultra-Light Hovercraft being used as “Work Equipment” under the terms of the Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (SI 1998 No 2306).
Large Hovercraft of 24 metres length and over or any other craft carrying more than 12 passengers, including Light and Small craft, fall outside the scope of this Code and are covered under the Merchant Shipping (High Speed Craft) Regulations 2004.
Independent Rescue Boat organisations using hovercraft for commercial purposes should use the Rescue Boat Code for all aspects of Survey and Certification, but they may use the technical standards of this code relevant to the hovercraft type.
Light Hovercraft (those below 1,000kg unladen weight), not used for reward need not comply with the requirements for registration or certification.
The Hovercraft Code is available in pdf here: MCA Hovercraft Code