Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Regent to develop a Seaglider transportation network in Hawaii

Mokulele Airlines and Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) have teamed up with the Boston-based Regent Craft to explore the build-out of a Seaglider transportation network in the State of Hawai’i to drive innovation in the passenger and freight sectors in support of a more resilient and sustainable transportation ecosystem for the State.

Pacific Current, a subsidiary of HEI, is named Regent’s preferred energy and infrastructure partner for Hawai’i focusing on vehicle financing and developing and providing access to renewable energy and electric charging infrastructure. Mokulele Airlines will be the launch partner for the Seaglider transportation network, with the aim to bring a fleet of Regent’s 12-passenger Viceroy Seagliders to the island chain.

But before that, the project partners have kicked off a feasibility study that focuses on the economic, environmental, and community benefits and challenges associated with introducing Seagliders for inter and intra-island travel in the State of Hawai’i. It also focuses on the economic impact on the State as well as how Seagliders can help advance affordability and accessibility of transportation, including assessing the impact of adding new routes and services to improve access for underserved communities.

“The Regent Seaglider is a complete game-changer for the State of Hawai’i,” said Stan Little, CEO of Mokulele. “Not only can this vehicle help the State meet its sustainability and resiliency goals more quickly, but this will enable our airline to offer new services that aren’t possible today. The Seaglider network gives us the ability to stand up a fast, convenient, affordable transportation solution that will not require passengers to have to go to an airport. Just imagine going from Kona Harbor to downtown Honolulu in less than 55 minutes, door to door. The partnership between Regent and Pacific Current allows us to do what we do best, and that is to provide local communities across the State with safe, convenient transportation for their leisure, business, and medical travel needs.”

Regent’s Seaglider is an all-electric, wing-in-ground-effect craft that operates within a wingspan of the water’s surface and couples the speed of an airplane with the operating cost of a boat. Built to the same safety standards as all modern aircraft and watercraft, the vehicle can hit up to 180 mph (290 km/h) while covering distances of 180 miles (290 km). In addition, it operates from dock to dock – it takes off from water using the hydrofoil technology, which is being used for today’s most efficient boats.

After successful prototype testing, the Regent Seaglider is set to start operations by 2026, and not just in Hawaii but on other U.S. routes too.