And Now, Electric Flying Boats

Brian McCowan, Zondits staff, 10/28/2022

Zondits has posted numerous articles covering the transition of transportation from diesel and gasoline powered vehicles to hybrid and all-electric power. Trains, trucks, ferry boats, airplanes, motorcycles, and of course automobiles have all been featured. And now, we are able to report that an all-electric “flying boat” has been successfully tested on and above the waters of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.

Regent is the developer of Viceroy, the first of what the company states will be a series of “seagliders.” The company recently tested a quarter-scale version of Viceroy, called Squire, demonstrating its capabilities to “float, foil and fly” according to Regent CEO Billy Thalheimer and reported on by CNBC.

Although it does conjure up visions of George Jetson or 007, flying in this context is not the same as with the electric airplanes under development. Regent’s boat uses a hydrofoil to lift the hull out of the water, much like the high-speed hydrofoil ferries serving some routes. Once the hull friction is overcome, the craft is able to lift the hydrofoil above the surface and fly several feet above the water.

The company explains that its flying boat is part of a class of vehicles termed “wings in ground effect” (WIGs.) Ground effect is an aerodynamic effect that creates additional lift when the wings of aircraft travel close to the ground or water surface. The distance equal to the wingspan of the aircraft is typically considered the above surface altitude limit of WIGs.

Regent plans for the full-size version of Viceroy to be capable of transporting up to 12 passengers on routes that are currently served by conventional ferries and commuter aircraft. During the test flight, the scale version reached a speed of 50 mph. The company states that the full-size commercial version will be capable of speeds up to 180 mph. Deployment of the commercial version of the craft is planned for late 2025. Larger versions are also in the works with target dates around 2028.

Read the CNBC article and view a video of the test flight here.