The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

U.S. Commuter Airline Orders 20 of Regent's All-Electric Seagliders

Southern Airways Express this week became a customer for the all-electric seagliders being developed by Regent. The commuter carrier, which flies to nearly 40 cities, said it has agreed to a $250 million deal to buy 20 of the vehicles and deploy them on routes around the New York and New England region, and also in the southeastern U.S.

The agreement calls for delivery of 15 of Regent’s 12-passenger Viceroy model, and 5 of the 100-seat Monarchs. According to Regent, its order book is now valued at over $600 million. The company has previously indicated that the smaller model would enter service in 2025, followed by the larger seaglider in 2028. Other committed operators include New York-based Fly the Whale, Goombay Air in the Bahamas, and Croatia's Split Express.

After departing from a standard dock and reaching open water, the seagliders would be able to operate at speeds up to 180 mph, which is about six times faster than conventional ferries. They are expected to have a range of 180 miles.

Similar to hovercraft, seagliders move on a dynamic air cushion created by pressurized air between the wings and the water.  Regent’s development schedule calls for a first flight of a quarter-scale model, followed by a full-size Viceroy, sporting a 60-foot wingspan, with flight tests to start in late 2023. The Monarch will have a 110-feet wingspan.

In June, European shipping group Brittany Ferries signed a letter of agreement to operate an unspecified number of seagliders. It intends to use these on passenger services between the UK and France.

As in the case of hovercraft, the seaglider would undergo regulatory scrutiny as a watercraft. But while a hovercraft uses its skirt to entrap pressurized air to help it stay aloft, the sea glider's propellers push the air under the wing, which provides the needed lift.