Regent unveiled a full-scale mockup of its Viceroy electric seaglider on Friday at the company’s facility in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The Viceroy is a 12-passenger flying boat that looks like a seaplane version of a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, designed to cruise a short distance above the water. The vessels will operate commercially by mid-decade, the company’s co-founder and CEO, Billy Thalheimer, said in an interview.
While many other companies are focused on eVTOL aircraft that would take off and land from airports, heliports or other land-based structures, Regent saw an opportunity to serve travelers in coastal cities. The Viceroy will have a maximum range of 160 nautical miles.
Southern Airways subsidiary Mokulele Airlines, serving the Hawaiian Islands, will be the first to carry paying passengers, Regent announced last year. "Since shortly after our founding, Southern Airways has been working toward the day when all of our flying would be green,” said Stan Little, chairman and CEO of Southern Airways, in a press release Friday.
Mesa Airlines, France-based Brittany Ferries, New Zealand’s Ocean Flyer and Germany-based ferry operator FRS have also placed orders with Regent. “To date, we've sold $8 billion worth of seagliders,” Thalheimer said.
Regent plans to build a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at its Rhode Island headquarters, alongside Narragansett Bay. Thalheimer said they chose this site, which allows easy access to protected waterways, for testing the seagliders. An inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, Thalheimer explained that the bay gives Regent the ability to “go into the ocean and really subject these vehicles to oceanic wind and oceanic waves and stormy conditions,” which will improve their safety.
Regent is working with the U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau Veritas to certify the vessel in the U.S. and internationally, Thalheimer said. As a marine vessel, he said the seagliders would be helmed by a captain – licensed by the Coast Guard as a master mariner – and a first mate.
A Regent spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive that the company has over 500 orders for its seagliders. “We expect to have humans flying on board by the end of next year,” Thalheimer said.