The seaglider could travel at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour
Brittany Ferries has signed a letter of intent with US-based start-up Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport (REGENT) to explore the potential for using electric ‘seagliders’ to transport passengers between the UK and France.
The seagliders operate using the concept of ground effect, where high-pressure air is trapped between the wings of the craft and the ground or water while it is flying at low altitude.
Following departure from port, the craft rises on foils and takes off in open waters, riding on the air cushion until it reaches its destination. Wing-mounted propellors provide the necessary thrust for the seagliders to take to the air at low speeds, while electric motors regulate air flow over wings when they are riding on the air cushion.
Seagliders are expected to be able to fly from existing ferry ports at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour, with a battery powered range of 180 miles. This would reduce the time for a journey between Portsmouth, UK and Cherbourg, France to as little as 40 minutes.
The letter of intent could see Brittany Ferries introducing seagliders with 50-150 passengers sailing between the UK and France by 2028. REGENT currently expects the first commercial passengers to travel on smaller electric craft by 2025.
“Seaglider is an attractive and exciting concept and we look forward to working with REGENT in the months and years to come,” said Frédéric Pouget, ports and operations director for Brittany Ferries. “We are particularly pleased to contribute now because it means we can bring real-world challenges and potential applications into the company’s thinking at an early stage. We hope this may help bring commercial success in the years that follow. Who knows, this could be the birth of ferries that fly across the Channel.”
REGENT is developing several different sizes of passenger-carrying seagliders, with the potential to serve on routes up to 500 miles with next-generation batteries.
“REGENT is excited to partner with Brittany Ferries to bring the future of maritime transportation to market,” said Billy Thalheimer, co-founder and CEO of REGENT. “Brittany Ferries offers world-class operational experience which will help REGENT ensure that our seagliders will be the most convenient and comfortable form of cross-Channel travel.”
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