A different sort of electric aircraft has been quietly undergoing flight tests—and sea trials—for a month and the company behind what it calls the seaglider is convinced it’s the future for regional flights in coastal areas. REGENT’s proof-of-concept ground effect aircraft is also a hydrofoil and boat. It taxis in boat mode, deploys the hydrofoils for the takeoff run and appears to leap off the water at V1. From there it cruises about 20 feet above the waves. The test article precedes a 12-passenger version it calls the Viceroy and REGENT claims it will reduce time and cost for the hundreds of scheduled flights worldwide that have water access.
“The seagliders will slash the cost and time of regional trips, predicting Los Angeles to San Francisco or Boston to New York in 2 hours 15 minutes for $100 or Miami to the Bahamas in 1 hour 20 minutes for $63,” the company said in a news release. REGENT says the vehicle will go as fast as 200 MPH and the Viceroy will initially have a range of 180 miles. Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines have partnered with REGENT for the project and Hawaiian has ordered at least five copies of a 100-seat version called the Monarch. REGENT claims the airliner-sized version will be ready by 2028.
Yet another concept that looks good from an engineering standpoint (protected waters ground effect, not necessarily the electric aspect) but forgets that the environment gets a vote and that if you scare the $&@! out of your customer base generating repeat customers will be a challenge.
Maintaining 20′ AGL in a long swell period Pacific may be quite the up/down ride or may not achieve the ground effect performance goal…in the stormier Atlantic seaboard the “intimate” ocean experience of flying thru whitecap spray is going to be a lot more “exciting” than Aunt Mabel is prepared for.
Yes and the moment that one noses into a double up wave it will tumble.
The English Channel is the obvious market they are looking at, especially the Poole – Cherbourg run which is around 80 km over water.
Trouble is all sorts of fast craft have tried, and most quickly earned nicknames like “vomit comet” — an Australian hydrofoil. Going fast over bumpy water makes people sick.
The “vomit comet” moniker was earned by the first generation SeaCats. Current designs are much larger, leading to a smoother ride. As an advocate for using current gen hydrofoils put it:
“…yet many of them still refer to the 74-metre, 3,000GT, SeaCat Tasmania of 1990 as the “spewcat” or “vomit comet”. That is as ridiculously unfair and dishonest as comparing a Short Sandringham flying boat with a Boeing 747. The next Incat ferry to be built will be 120 metres and 13,000 plus GT.”
But does it make sense to compare a surface craft with an aircraft?
The Ekranoplan of the civilised world?
Where would we be today without invention? Our country was built on the greatness of these inventions and of the previous inventions that failed. God bless those who are not afraid to take a chance.
37 years from Kitty Hawk to the first flight of the P-51. Just 66 years from Kitty Hawk to the moon!
Keep up the good works REGENT!
Boston to New York? LA to San Francisco? 180 mile range? Maybe someone should look at a map. Plus, I can’t imagine this thing flying at 200 mph through those areas, which are pretty busy with commercial and recreational watercraft.
^^^ No way they are going through the Cape Cod Canal at 200 mph…
I agree with Jeff to a point – building on failed inventions has given many breakthroughs in technology. However, it seems that today’s “inventors”, unlike their predecessors, are tossing common sense and “going for broke” as they say. Imagine whisking along at 200 mph and striking a large shark, or sea cow, or larger! At speed, strong things become flexy-bendy-breaky very fast. Think a bird strike. And as others have stated, seldom are the waters calm. But the barf bag companies should see an upswing in sales.
As I understand it, by the time it’s going 200mph, the vehicle is completely airborne. It will be flying within the surface effect (ground effect) regime. Striking objects in the water shouldn’t be a problem.
On the other hand, if this is to be a regional solution, then that means passengers might be connecting from a longer flight leg. If you start at SFO in a boat-like airplane, you have a long way to go in the wrong direction before you can soar south over the ocean. The “seaspace” in the channel can be very crowded, and you can’t just go over the traffic.
All those small props should give it great lift. Why does it need to be a hydrofoil? Seems like an unnecessary transition.
The water between Boston and New York, for example, is busy. Lots of commercial shipping, small boats, and now wind turbines, etc. It’s one thing to navigate this mess at 20 knots or less, another at 200 knots. It’s a great research project and will likely result in new technology that will be useful in other areas. Will it be commercially viable? Time will tell.
It’s clever; it reminds me of something from Johny Quest from the 60’s.
However going 150-200 mph makes it hard to miss small boats, floating debris, and surprised seagulls. It probably will be very efficient for a water craft.
I can understand the Benihana endorsement but, I doubt you’ll see The National Audubon Society sticker on the tail. 🦩
Is there something illicit aviation entrepreneurs have been ‘smoking’ lately? Where is all the $$$ to fund these nutty ideas coming from. The only thing missing from this idea is autonomous flight. An autonomous, electric sea skimming people mover … yeeeaaahhh!
If this was a viable business model it would have been done already with Avgas or Jet A.
The Russians had some sort of a giant in ground effect craft called the Ekranoplan that was fascinating but failed.
IGE is a technology well used by seabirds but unlikely to provide transportation for us due to it’s limitations.
Man that video was exciting to watch!!!
Apparently it can fly high enough to just barely kill you.
Seems they should start with combustion engines to see if the concept will “fly” from a business perspective, but the EV component probably is the stupid money draw.
Yeah, lets extend the most dangerous parts of flying (takeoff and landing) to virtually include the whole journey. I won’t be a customer…