Regent Craft, the Boston-based developer of electric-powered wing-in-ground effect vehicles called seagliders, said the challenge of difficult wind and water conditions around Hawaii is part of its design and development program for the Monarch, a planned next-generation seaglider expected to operate from the islands.
“Regent is taking into consideration all manner of wind, weather, and climate into the design, testing, and safety of our 12-passenger seaglider, Viceroy, and our next generation seaglider, the 50- to 100-passenger Monarch,” the company said.
The company last month said it entered an investment agreement with Hawaiian Airlines meant to support the Monarch’s design program. Regent said seagliders would be well-suited to the airline’s island-hopping operations. However, some people familiar with the sometimes-difficult wind and sea conditions in Hawaii wondered how seagliders would approach such challenges.
“Seagliders will have weather-based operating limitations just as any plane or boat and will fly a safe height over the tops of the waves,” Regent said, adding that “designing the Monarch with a partner like Hawaiian Airlines is the perfect opportunity to ensure we are considering Hawaii’s unique challenges.”
The Monarch is currently a concept. Regent has not released full specifications for it but said it expects the vehicle to enter service by 2028. Regent’s planned initial model, the Viceroy is 57.5 feet long with a wingspan of 65 feet. It is designed to carry 12 passengers and two crew members. Regent said it expects Viceroy prototypes to begin sea trials next year and production models to enter service in 2025.
Seagliders are in a category of vehicles known by the acronym WIG, for wing-in-ground effect. They fly at low altitude to take advantage of the cushion of air between the wing and the surface, in this case, water. The cushion helps keep the craft airborne using less power than would be required to fly at higher altitudes like an airplane. As a result, seagliders and similar craft generally can carry more weight with the same power when compared with a traditional airplane.
Pilots are familiar with ground effect, which can also cause airplanes to “float” along the runway just a few feet off the ground when carrying excess speed on the landing approach.
Regent Moving Its Headquarters
Regent also said it is moving its headquarters from Boston to North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in part because of the area’s easy ocean access but also because the state offered attractive tax incentives.
Regent said it plans to build manufacturing and testing facilities in the Quonset Point area of town that it expects to open in summer 2023. Quonset is ideal, the company said, because of its access to protected waterways and the ocean—both critical for testing.