REGENT Craft, an American startup developing a new generation of ground effect vehicles, has announced assorted developments that it expects to bring it closer to its first crewed test flights, which are expected to take place during 2024.
Ground-effect vehicles make use of the aerodynamic benefits provided by the so-called ‘wing-in-ground’ effect in order to achieve very high speeds when flying just a few meters above a body of water. REGENT Craft has been working on one such vehicle, which it calls ‘Seaglider’ and expects to deploy on inter-city coastal passenger-carrying routes.
On October 5, 2023, REGENT Craft announced the closure of a $60 million Series A funding round that will enable it to move forward with a full-scale prototype test program, with testing of a small-scale prototype having already started in 2022.
The new funding round brings the total raised to date by REGENT to $90 million. It has been co-led by 8090 Industries, a VC firm focusing on aerospace, defense and sustainability projects, and Founders Fund, which is linked to Peter Thiel.
According to REGENT’s announcement, existing investors are also co-investing in this round. These include companies such as Lockheed Martin, Yamato Holdings and the Japan Airlines Innovation Fund.
It is with the Japanese Airline that REGENT Craft has just signed an agreement to make Japan one of the first places in the world that could see Seaglider service.
The two companies will collaborate in assessing opportunities for Seaglider deployments in the Japanese islands, together with the roll-out of the related infrastructure and the study of the relevant regulatory regime.
A planned demonstration flight in Japan is being planned for 2025 and a Japanese company, JALUX Co., Ltd., has been appointed as sales agent for future Seaglider operations.
“Japan is an exemplary market for Seaglider travel and logistics and we look forward to partnering with JAL to accelerate the adoption of Seagliders throughout the country, and the broader Asia Pacific region,” said Billy Thalheimer, co-founder and CEO of REGENT, as quoted in a joint official statement issued by REGENT Craft and Japan Airlines.