Hawaiian Airlines has agreed to invest in Boston-based Regent to support the initial design of its 100-passenger all-electric seaglider known as the Monarch, Regent said in a statement issued May 11. With the equity investment, the amount of which remains undisclosed, Hawaiian Airlines becomes Regent’s first U.S.-based design partner for the Monarch, which Regent projects will enter commercial service by 2028.
“Innovative interisland transportation has been core to our business since 1929 when we replaced steamships with airplanes,” said Avi Mannis, chief marketing and communications officer at Hawaiian Airlines. “We are excited to be an early investor in Regent and to be involved in developing their largest seaglider—a vehicle with great potential for Hawaii. We look forward to working with Regent to explore the technology and infrastructure needed to fulfill our vision for convenient, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable interisland transportation.”
Regent said the partnership with Hawaiian might include collaboration on performance specifications, configurations, and design. Early last month Regent unveiled its seaglider technical demonstrator, which began an eight-week test program in Tampa, Florida, to evaluate the vehicle’s systems and demonstrate its float, foil, and fly missions.
After departing from a standard dock and reaching open water, Regent’s seagliders would operate at speeds of up to 180 mph, or about six times faster than conventional ferries. The vehicle’s range would extend to about 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.
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.
The company, which claims it now holds sales commitments worth $6 billion, has previously said that its smaller, 12-passenger Viceroy model would enter service in 2025, followed by the Monarch in 2028. Committed operators include U.S. commuter carrier Southern Airways Express, New York-based Fly the Whale, Ocean Flyer in New Zealand, Goombay Air in the Bahamas, Croatia's Split Express, and Britanny Ferries.