Zero-emission ‘Seagliders’ could cross Channel in 40 minutes

Posted: June 21, 2021 by oldbrew in Batteries, innovation, Travel
Tags: ,

Image credit: Brittany Ferries

Battery weight is always a problem for electric-powered flight. No reason to think this type of machine would be any different, meaning the economics of the idea remain questionable.
– – –
Ferry operator Brittany Ferries has announced that it will work with US-based start-up Regent Craft to develop sea-skimming “flying ferries” that could reduce sailing times between England and France to as little as 40 minutes, says E&T.

Brittany Ferries described the proposed battery-powered vehicle as combining “the convenience of passenger ferries with the comfort of hydrofoils, the aerodynamic efficiency of hovercraft and the speed of aircraft”.

It resembles a small aircraft which skims the surface of the sea. It uses the wing-in ground effect, which would involve riding on a cushion of air trapped between a wing and the water surface; this is similar to how a hovercraft supports itself as it moves.

Following departure from a port, the craft rises on foils insulating passengers from discomfort. In open waters, it takes off, riding its air cushion all the way to its destination.

Wing-mounted propellers provide the thrust to take to the air at low speeds, while electric motors regulate air flow over wings while riding the air cushion.

It will skim the sea at speeds reaching 180mph and will require “minimal power” to move hundreds of passengers, Brittany Ferries said, covering 180 miles on a single charge.

The “flying ferry” could carry 50-150 people across the Channel in just 40 minutes (the crossing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg takes approximately five hours by conventional ferry). It hopes to start running commercial operations in 2028.

Brittany Ferries acknowledged that its plan will face considerable “technical and regulatory challenges” but said that this should not be a barrier to pursuing promising, sustainable technologies.

Full article here.

  1. Rick Bradford says:

    This looks like cultural appropriation from the Russian Ekranoplan

  2. ilma630 says:

    Not only weight, but re-charge time. These craft require a minimum level of in-service utilisation to be economically feasible. It would take many hours to recharge, and the higher the recharge current to reduce that time, the higher the energy losses, and also the higher the risk of fires from battery faults. There’s no way I would be on one of those craft whilst they’re being recharged.

  3. oldbrew says:

    They will be for passengers only, initially at least.

    If it’s such a good idea, why haven’t they tried it with fuel-powered planes?

  4. Dave Ward says:

    The Russian Ekranoplan had (relatively) clear areas like the Caspian & Black Seas to operate in, and yet these “flying ferries” are being touted as a means of crossing the Channel – probably the most congested bit of water in the world. Wing In Ground Effect aircraft aren’t able to safely climb high enough to avoid the myriad cargo ships and all the other fixed obstacles they will encounter, so trying to avoid them whilst travelling at 160kts or so is going to be a nightmare. Furthermore, they need a huge amount of thrust to get out of the water in the first place (hence the 8 propulsion units shown). Only once actually flying do they become economic. Are they planning to have fully feathering and/or folding blades on 6 of them, so they can be shut down to minimise drag at speed?

  5. saighdear says:

    Hmm, looks like Brittany Ferries have too much disposable income to invest in Start-up Co. OTOH, short trips would require smaller battery capacity than flying long distance. – but if the weather changes – how do you land? “!!?” can’t exactly hang around – make a Splash! Yeah! Skoolbuoy conversations!

  6. JB says:

    The enterprise will never get off the water…

    It will go the way of the Zeppelin, only much sooner.

  7. Gamecock says:

    This is so ignorant.

    Hydrofoil ferries serving Macau-Hong Cong have been in service for many years. They work. Well. This lame brain scheme is an advance to the rear.

  8. tom0mason says:

    Understatement of the year so far, “Brittany Ferries acknowledged that its plan will face considerable “technical and regulatory challenges” ” !

  9. stewgreen says:

    so who needs a hydrofoil ?

    #0 heavy vehicles can’t use it
    #1 There’s already a tunnel
    #2 If I like most, don’t want to start in Calais and finish in Dover
    I can still get the plane at Manchester Airport and get off in Marseille/Mulhouse etc.

    #3 A cruise ship route option means you can sleep on board

  10. oldbrew says:

    Doing ‘the speed of an aircraft’ or 180 mph in or on the busy Channel sounds like a bad idea.

  11. gbaikie says:

    “Ferry operator Brittany Ferries has announced that it will work with US-based start-up Regent Craft to develop sea-skimming “flying ferries” that could reduce sailing times between England and France to as little as 40 minutes, ”

    So: “There are 5 ways to get from Portsmouth to Cherbourg by car, car ferry, train, bus, bus and ferry or car train”
    –Drive, car ferry
    6h 12m $42 – $103–
    That seems the cheapest and fastest.
    [And seems traveling to France and UK by an electric bike is not common. And traveling by Tunnel is not cheap nor fast from Portsmouth.]

    Maybe one could make spaceport say 10 miles south of Isle of Wight? And say 5 miles south of Isle Wight make an airport. So can have international airport connect to spaceport and various type of connections to UK and France [which can be boats and smaller planes. Since Isle of Wight does not seem to be part of route to France and UK, there probably various political factors preventing it and if doing stuff far enough away from this place, there could be less political problems involved. So, kind of going around the isle. Though if still a problem add another 5 miles south of it.

  12. Stuart Brown says:

    So much that makes no sense. Do you want to cross the channel quick or cheap? Cheap, coming back with a tank full of cut price diesel in the Volvo and 20 cases of wine + brandy and whisky avoiding UK tax and a nice lunch of moules mariniere with your Dad at the Cafe de Paris? Rusty old Brittany ferry.

    Or quick, business in La Defence, Paris – take the Eurostar through the tunnel or fly to CDG. I did both more times than I can count. Who wants to go to a northern French port except to drive away from it in a bus or car, or to come straight back with a boot full of cheap booze? Really!

    With this Ekateran idea you can’t take your car, or you can’t get where you want to go. Bonkers. It’s the reason hovercraft and catamaran/hydrofoil have failed on this route. This won’t be quicker for folks who want quick, or cheaper for those that want cheap.

  13. Stuart Brown says:

    NB for those unfamiliar with the territory the Cafe de Paris I mean is in the French port of Calais, visible from the UK on a clear day!

  14. gbaikie says:

    –oldbrew says:
    June 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm
    Doing ‘the speed of an aircraft’ or 180 mph in or on the busy Channel sounds like a bad idea.–

    And waiting in line to fly 180 mph is a worse idea.
    One could go anywhere in the world in less than 1 hour, but if takes 6 hours our time so you can take less than 1 hour trip, it would be less useful.
    Apparently one drive thru channel tunnel in about 35 mins and you don’t need to go 180 mph.
    As I recall ground effect air craft fly at around 120 mph- Russian has been trying use them for decades. Oh here is Video:

    And it said Russia weren’t flying in open ocean [couldn’t fly with high waves] but some think they could designed them to fly over ocean. Wiki:
    “The International Maritime Organization recognizes three types of GEVs:

    A: A craft which is certified for operation only in ground effect;
    B: A craft which is certified to temporarily increase its altitude to a limited height outside the influence of ground effect but not exceeding 150 m (490 ft) above the surface; and
    C: A craft which is certified for operation outside ground effect and exceeding 150 m (490 ft) above the surface.
    These classes currently only apply to craft carrying 12 passengers or more.”

    If this thing is vaguely real, it would be a B and top speed 180 mph is needed to leave the ground effect elevation. But it seems days when one has significant waves would prevent it using the ground effect and therefore would require more energy to fly. Or this would run best when there is no waves- so, kind of like wind and solar energy. Not viable.

    What I think could lead lead more viable electrical air craft:

    Racing [and war “efforts”] has done a lot for cars and airplanes.

  15. hunterson7 says:

    Except for the physics, engineering and financial problems, what could go wrong?

  16. Coeur de Lion says:

    BF could spend the money on fitting EV charging points on their car ferries. You pay extra for a slot and £1 a Kwh! Win win win!

  17. oldbrew says:

    Coeur de Lion says: ‘BF could spend the money on fitting EV charging points on their car ferries.’
    – – –
    Powered by what? 🤔

  18. Coeur de Lion says:

    Bunker dieso, old brew, bunker dieso!

  19. Gamecock says:

    If we clap real hard, will it come to be true?

    Wait . . . what? That was Tinker Bell? Oh, a flying FAIRY.

    Never mind.

  20. Gamecock says:

    “If it’s such a good idea, why haven’t they tried it with fuel-powered planes?”

    I have seen this phenomenon in some automobile projects over the years. First that comes to mind was Ford’s fuel cell LSR car at Bonneville .

    They are announced as projects to prove technologies are viable, such as in this case, battery powered flying boats. But note that the engineering isn’t in the power train, it’s in the boat itself. Should this thing work, it’s about the boat, not the power train. But they’ll say, “SEE? SEE? Battery power for boats works!”

  21. stpaulchuck says:

    of course it will be zero emissions. It will never work so it’ll be rusting away in a hanger or warehouse somewhere – zero emissions.

    So whose money will be transferring to the Caymans until the company finally goes Tango Uniform after the starters dump all their stock?

  22. oldbrew says:

    Ground effect projects seem to have trouble getting off the ground 😎

    Plans, but no results?

  23. Gamecock says:

    Cool video, oldbrew.

    I notice all flights are over calm seas. Waves a problem?

  24. Doonhamer says:

    Getting airborne problem.
    The departure could be facilitated by a giant catapult. Then it just needs enough thrust to stay in the air.
    Or RATO.
    Or flight could start at top of White Cliffs with aid of catapult. By the time the aircraft had dropped to cruising height it would have enough air speed to stay airborne.
    Or same idea but winched up to a tethered blimp and then a graceful dive.
    Well if they can be silly so can we.

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