REGENT seagliders appear destined to become a huge success as the company now says that it has booked $7B in orders.
Seagliders will bring welcome relief for travelers [in] coastal communities such… the Hawaiian Islands. — REGENT CEO Billy Thalheimer.
Even with many issues unanswered, including safety for marine animals and specifics related to Hawaii weather and ocean conditions, these aircraft will unquestionably be headed to Hawaii soon. The manufacturer proclaimed that “Seagliders will be a game-changer for sustainable regional transportation in communities such as Hawaii… They will also be making their way to New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. REGENT said that “There has not been a new mode of transportation since the helicopter. This is the next great moment in the history of human transportation.”
REGENT had its first electric seaglider concept test flights last fall at Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. At the time of the seaglider technology demonstrator, both Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines were already committed to the venture. The first successful flight proved its mission to “float, foil, fly.” It is the first of its kind sustainable, high-speed maritime transportation to become airborne as a controlled hydrofoil and then transform into being wing-borne while flying. We’ve attached that major step, successful flights video below.
The first test flights were demonstrations remotely controlled without a person on board. It also was a quarter-scale prototype with an 18-foot wingspan. REGENT is now targeting the development of a 65-foot wingspan, full-scale prototype. Piloted human-carrying sea trials are expected to begin next year. The 100-passenger, likely Hawaiian Airlines-destined version will take flight by 2029, which is amazingly soon.
How the REGENT seaglider works.
When the electric wing-in-ground effect vehicle first departs the dock, it functions similarly to a traditional boat. Upon leaving the harbor area, as speed increases, it transitions to rise on a hydrofoil, which skims along on the water surface. In open water, however, the craft lifts off the water to within a wingspan of the water (65′). The hydrofoil is then retracted, and the vehicle accelerates to full cruising speed. It is a unique hybrid of airplanes and boats, featuring advanced digital flight control and traditionally simple boat controls. Seagliders are said to have operational efficiencies and payload capability far greater than traditional aircraft. This is the first-ever vehicle to successfully operate in three modes of maritime operation, floating, foiling, and flying.
“Seagliders will slash the cost and time of regional trips.”
All-electric, wing-in-ground-effect vehicles are capable of high-speed maritime travel up to 200 mph. REGENT says that the operating costs of the vehicle are more similar to a boat, whereas the specs are a combination of those of both planes and boats. They can travel up to a distance of 180 miles on current battery technology, and REGENT expects to achieve a greater range of as much as a 500-miles subsequently.
Japan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines partner with REGENT.
REGENT has had tremendous interest, and investors include not only Hawaiian Airlines but also Japan Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and Mesa Airlines. Other partners onboard are Split Express, FRS, Ocean Flyer, Brittany Ferries, Southern Airways (in addition to Mokulele), and Fly The Whale. Partners include airlines, ferry companies, and ocean logistics.
In May 2022, Hawaiian Airlines first announced it was investing in the REGENT Monarch 100-passenger craft. They were the first U.S. development partner. Mokulele, on the other hand, through its parent company Southern Airways Express, signed on as a Regent customer two years ago. Mokulele has purchased 15 of the 12-passenger Viceroy craft plus 5 of the 100-passenger Monarch craft.
Of interest in Hawaii, the boats/planes are set to operate from harbor to harbor rather than use airports like traditional air travel. This could thus become the next generation of elusive Hawaii ferries for coastal transit. In addition, the company says that it offers a smooth ride and significant wave tolerance, even in rough ocean conditions.
When they announced the REGENT partnership, Hawaiian CMO Avi Mannis said, “Innovative interisland transportation has been core to our business since 1929 when we replaced steamships with airplanes. We are excited to be an early investor in REGENT and to be involved in developing their largest seaglider – a vehicle with great potential for Hawaii.”We look forward to working with REGENT to explore the technology and infrastructure needed to fulfill our vision for convenient, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable interisland transportation.”
Japan Airlines invests $40m+ in REGENT seaglider.
Last week Japan Airlines announced its strategic investment in REGENT. That came as the company has already booked over $5 billion in orders to date.
JAL’s innovation fund will invest over $40 million in this step towards integrating the seaglider concept with JAL’s aircraft network.
“This strategic investment speaks to the growing adoption of seaglider technology by major airlines. At REGENT, we’re at the helm of ushering in a completely new era in sustainable transportation, and JAL Innovation Fund’s investment gives us the resources and support that we need to unveil an innovative approach for regional travel at lower costs, faster speeds, and zero emissions.” — REGENT CEO Billy Thalheimer.
Yasushi Noda, JAL’s Executive Officer and Senior Vice President of Digital Innovation said the carrier is excited to partner with REGENT.
“We are very pleased to make this investment in REGENT from our CVC, JAL Innovation Fund. We believe seagliders are a safe, sustainable, and economical solution, and we are excited to work with REGENT to assess demand not only in Japan but around the world. We are delighted to add seagliders to JAL’s list of new challenges and are honored to work with REGENT to explore the possibilities of seagliders.” — Yasushi Noda, JAL.
REGENT has sold 400+ seagliders to date.
Regent’s electric seaglider now has amassed hundreds of orders from various industry partners around the world, two of which are in Hawaii.
Boston-based startup REGENT was created by co-founders Billy Thalheimer and Mike Klinker, both MIT graduates who are the company’s CEO and CTO.