What is a Jetfoil?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Developed by Boeing in the early 1970’s, the jetfoil is a hydrofoil device that is propelled by the use of waterjets. The jetfoil was created to be a passenger carrying device, allowing for a quick and efficient transport using water as the medium. Envisioned as a transportation device that would be ideal for carrying tourists from one coastal location to another stop on the tour, the original designs for the jetfoil provided space for up to four hundred passengers.

While the general concept of the jetfoil was developed with the goal of providing waterjet-propelled transportation for a large number of passengers, at least one military application of note occurred. The Royal Navy of Great Britain purchased a Boeing designed jetfoil in 1979. Part of the reason for the acquisition was for use in various forms of defensive training connected to protecting the waters off the borders of the United Kingdom. Along with this application, the jetfoil was also evaluated for use as part of the normal duties of the country’s Fishery Protection Squadron.


The use of jetfoils as part of the process of providing short range transportation for tourists became a popular option in a number of different countries. Such diverse nations as Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States saw the use of the jetfoil between some coastal locations. As an example, a jetfoil operated a regular route between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia during the early 1980’s. A similar process was used in the English Channel along the same time, providing easy transportation between the European coast and England.

While the use of the jetfoil never became as widespread as originally hoped, there are still some locations that make good use of the device. Boeing has since sold off the product line to a Japanese manufacture. That company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, continues to produce a number of jetfoils each year.


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