First Full-Scale Mock-Up WIG Seaglider Unveiled for 2024 Test Flights
The first full-scale mock-up of a seaglider prototype was unveiled on Friday, by Regent, a Rhode Island-based startup that is developing the wing-in-ground (WIG) effect vehicle as future sea-skimming ferries. The concept is a new category of maritime vehicle that combines the high speed of an airplane with the low operating cost of a boat and would be certified and regulated in the maritime category.
Regent displayed its full-scale mockup announcing that it plans the next stage of flight testing using this larger version in 2024. The company conducted the first flight tests last year using a quarter-scale prototype. The company announced several other key steps in its continuing development including plans to expand its global headquarters in Rhode Island to include up to 600,000 square feet of new manufacturing and test facilities.
“This mock-up along with the announcement of our plans to build new state-of-the-art facilities showcases our growth trajectory and our commitment to begin production as soon as possible,” said Regent co-founder and CEO Billy Thalheimer. “Our studies, based on publicly validated data, show that our seagliders serve an $11 billion market that we project to swell to as much as $25 billion as battery technology advances. The $8 billion in orders our company has already received from a variety of companies around the world reflect the need for fast, reliable, and sustainable maritime transportation.”
The concept of the seaglider has drawn broad interest both from within the maritime community and regional airlines. Regent reports it has procured over $50 million in funding since its launch just two years ago. It has also announced strategic investments from Japan Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and Japan’s Yamato Holdings. Among the customers that are reported to have placed more than 500 orders valued at over $8 billion are Brittany Ferries, FRS (Germany), Mesa Airlines, Ocean Flyer (New Zealand), and Mokulele Airlines. The company reported today that Southern Airways/Mokulele Airlines will receive the first commercial passenger seagliders when they become available on the market.
Regent’s design is for an all-electric, zero-emission vessel. Using the WIG concept, they will operate exclusively over water and leverage existing dock infrastructure to carry people and goods. Based on current battery technology, Regent says the seagliders will have a range of up to 180 miles. The company announced today it has tapped EP Systems and MAGicALL as key vendors for the batteries and motors that will power the prototype’s all-electric distributed propulsion system.
The mock-up represents a key next step says Regent noted that customers will also be able to begin interfacing with the full-scale vehicle design and think about the passenger experience. Regent expects its first commercial Viceroy seagliders to enter service by mid-decade.