Japan Airlines' Electric Sea Gliders with Wing-In-Ground Effect
As it assesses whether it can use the wing-in-ground-effect vessel in its fleet, Japan Airlines (JAL) is investing in sea glider developer Regent Craft. As of January 26, the U.S. start-up has raised $45 million to date. The size of the investment was not disclosed.
As part of its plans to launch commercial services in 2025, Regent plans to certify its 12-passenger all-electric Viceroy model under maritime regulations. In August 2022, Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore issued an approval in principle covering the means of compliance.
Squire was the name of the company's quarter-scale technology demonstrator that it began testing last year. Regent's headquarters in Rhode Island and Tampa, Florida, conducted these trials. As of late 2023, a full-scale Viceroy prototype with a 60-foot wingspan will be ready for testing.
Viceroy is expected to be able to operate on routes up to 180 miles using current battery technology. In addition to a 100-seat model called the Monarch, Regent says this range could increase significantly as batteries improve.
A seaglider is a type of WIG vehicle that flies entirely above water by utilizing the ground effect, an aerodynamic phenomenon in which air flows beneath the vehicle provides lift. The technology resembles a cross between a seaplane and hovercraft, but sea gliders cannot hover. In contrast to hovercraft, which use downward-facing propellers, WIGs use forward-facing propellers to create lift and reduce drag caused by lift.
Besides cruising near a dock, sea gliders can foil on hydrofoils at slow speeds (up to 40 knots) or fly at high speeds (up to 160 knots). Regent's sea gliders will operate up to six times faster than conventional ferries.
Sea gliders might be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way for Japan Airlines to connect islands across the country.
We are excited to work with Regent to assess demand not only in Japan, but also around the world for sea gliders. worldwide the world,” commented the fund’s senior vice president, Yasushi Noda. “We are delighted to add sea gliders to JAL’s list of new challenges.”
In addition to ferry operators like Brittany in Europe, Regent's sea gliders have also been marketed to regional airlines like Hawaiian Airlines and Southern Airways ExpressIn addition to ferry operators like Brittany in Europe, Regent's sea gliders have also been marketed to regional airlines like Hawaiian Airlines and Southern Airways Express.