A new electric Wing-in-Ground Effect (WIG) vehicle could be set to help decarbonise city-to-city travel over expanses of water.

The 12-passenger seaglider also appears to use hydrofoil technology to reduce drag before take-off

USA-based Regent Craft Inc. has selected Bureau Veritas Marine and Offshore to evaluate its initial wing-in-ground-effect vehicle, the 12-passenger seaglider named Viceroy, with the objective of obtaining a certificate of classification for the vessel type. Bureau Veritas is one of the world’s leading classification societies with over 190 years of reviewing and approving novel seagoing vessels. Obtaining classification notation is a necessary milestone before commencing serial production of a new vessel and is a significant step forward in enabling seaglider operations in countries around the world.

“Bureau Veritas is looking forward to working with Regent on classifying this novel wing-in-ground-effect craft,” says Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice-President, Technical & Operations, Bureau Veritas, Marine and Offshore. “Seagliders present an opportunity for Bureau Veritas to assess the safety and suitability of cutting-edge systems including electric propulsion systems, high-speed hydrofoils, and digital fly-by-wire control systems.”

Regent has completed the first stage of the Risk Based Qualification of New Technology process as documented in Bureau Veritas Guidance Note NI 525. This process will lead to an Approval in Principle (AIP) of the Viceroy seaglider design in 2022. REGENT and Bureau Veritas have been working together for several months and have established certification acceptance criteria and the technology maturity scale that will apply to the vessel, incorporating technology readiness level, integration difficulty, and operational conditions, that will be used to determine the qualification processes that each system and subsystem will undergo and conform to before the vessel receives its classification certification.

Regent CEO, Billy Thalheimer, says, “Classification of seagliders is an important aspect for our customers to operate seagliders and obtain insurance world-wide. REGENT is excited to be working with Bureau Veritas through this qualification process given their expertise and experience with complex maritime vessels.”

Seagliders operate a few metres off the water's surface and couples the high speed of aircraft with the low operating cost of vessels. Conforming with the safety standards of modern aircraft and vessels, seagliders will service routes up to 300 kilometres at speeds up to 160 knots with existing battery technology, and routes up to 700 kilometres with next-gen batteries.

Wing-in Ground effect craft, are also sometimes called Wing In Surface Effect (WISE) vehicles, or Ekranoplans, after a well-known Russian implementation of the technology in the 1960s. They take advantage of a wing’s ability to generate more lift when close to the ground (or water surface), than when in free air.

By Jake Frith