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Lloyd’s Register Will Certify Regent’s WIG Seaglider

WIG Seaglider
Regent recently signed an agreement with New Zealand-based Ocean Flyer as one of the customers for its Seaglider (Regent)

Published May 30, 2024 4:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Efforts to develop and commercialize the first hydrofoiling wing-in-ground (WIG) seagliders continue to advance with Lloyd’s Register joining to provider certification and consulting moving the concept one step closer to launch. Regent has also received strong interest both from regional airlines as well as shipping companies including Brittany Ferries for what it bills as a novel and more efficient way to travel.

Seagliders are all-electric hydrofoiling wing-in-ground-effect vessels that operate within one wingspan of the water’s surface. According to the company, the crafts will combine the higher speeds of a light aircraft with the low operating costs of a maritime vessel.  The novel concept has even drawn interest from the Department of Defense.

“LR’s certification marks significant progress in Regent’s compliance pathway toward maritime operations," said Ted Lester, VP, Certification for Regent. "LR’s expertise in classification and compliance services, as well as its commitment to safety and advancing the path to net-zero emissions, make it an ideal partner for ensuring seagliders meet required global standards now and in the future.”

According to the companies, LR will be taking a risk-based approach in the absence of existing rules and regulations, to support the maritime certification process, including advancing its design basis agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard. This will define the certification pathway including for non-U.S. seagliders. This process and the engineering data derived from this partnership will help define LR rules for future WIG vessels, including Regent’s 100-passenger Monarch seaglider. 

The company undertook its first demonstrations in 2022 using a scale model for test flights. Regent reports that it aims to have humans on board its 12-passenger seaglider prototype this year, with vehicles to market by mid-decade.  

The all-electric seagliders represent the latest technology in maritime vessels that drastically reduce the time and cost of transporting people and goods between coastal destinations. While the concept for WIG crafts existed, Regent has moved it forward bringing together advanced modern technology from multiple industries, including electric propulsion, hydrofoils, modern vehicle controls, and fly-by-wire systems. They report their versions of the WIG craft increases wave tolerance, safe operations, and passenger comfort.

Regent’s first design, the Viceroy, is a 12-passenger vehicle that travels at 180 mph to service routes up to 180 miles on a single charge. The company reports it has already secured more than 600 seaglider orders valued at more than $9 billion from leading airline and ferry operators around the world and has raised more than $90 million from investors including 8090 Industries, Founders Fund, Japan Airlines, and Lockheed Martin. Long-term plans envision a 100-passenger model as well.

Brittany Ferries signed a letter of intent with Regent in 2021 to explore a 50 to 100-passenger model. The ferry operator envisions a service from Portsmouth, England to Cherbourg, France that could be covered in as little as 40 minutes.