Japan Airlines Joins Hawaiian Airlines: $7 Billion REGENT Seaglider

REGENT Seagliders looks set to be a huge hit as the company now says it has booked $7 billion in orders.

Seagliders bring welcome relief to travelers [in] Coastal communities like… the Hawaiian Islands. — REGENT CEO Billy Thalheimer.

REGENT had its first electric seaplane concept test flights last fall in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. At the time of the Seaglider technology demonstrator, both Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines already had interests in the company. The first successful flight proved its mission “Float, Foil, Fly”. It is the first high-speed sustainable sea transport of its kind, taking to the air as a controlled hydrofoil and then transforming into a hydrofoil during flight. We’ve attached this big step, successful flight video below.

While many questions remain unanswered, including safety for marine animals and specifics related to Hawaii’s weather and sea conditions, these planes will undoubtedly be flying to Hawaii soon. The manufacturer proclaimed: “Seagliders will be a game changer for sustainable regional transport in Communities like Hawaii… They will also travel to New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. REGENT said: “There hasn’t been a new means of transport since the helicopter. This is the next great moment in human transportation history.”

The first test flights were remote-controlled demonstrations with no person on board. It was also a quarter-scale prototype with an 18-foot wingspan. REGENT now aims to develop a full-scale prototype with a wingspan of 65 feet. Piloted sea trials involving human transport are scheduled to begin next year. If there are no problems, the 100-passenger version, likely destined for Hawaiian Airlines, will take off by 2029, which is pretty damn soon.

This is how the sea glider REGENT works.

When the wing-in-the-ground effect electric vehicle first leaves the dock, it operates similarly to a conventional boat. Leaving the port area, the speed increases and the speed increases to a hydrofoil that glides along the surface of the water. However, in open water the craft lifts off the water to within a span of water (65′). The hydrofoil is then retracted and the vehicle accelerates to full cruising speed. It’s a unique blend of aircraft and boats with advanced digital flight controls and traditionally simple boat controls. Seagliders are said to have far greater operational efficiency and payload capacity than conventional aircraft. This is the first-ever craft capable of successfully operating in three maritime operational modes: swim, foil, and fly.

“Sea gliders will reduce the cost and time of regional travel.”

All-electric vehicles with wing-in-the-ground effect are capable of high-speed cruising at sea, up to 200 miles per hour. REGENT says the vehicle’s operating costs are more like those of a boat, while its specifications are a combination of those of airplanes and boats. They can travel up to 180 miles with current battery technology, and REGENT expects to reach a longer range of up to 500 miles later.

Japan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines all work with REGENT.

Japan Airlines Joins Hawaiian Airlines: $7 Billion REGENT Seaglider Fleet

REGENT has had tremendous interest and investors include only Hawaiian Airlines, but also Japan Airlines, Mokulele Airlines and Mesa Airlines. Other partners include Split Express, FRS, Ocean Flyer, Brittany Ferries, Mesa Airlines and Fly The Whale. Partners include airlines, ferry companies and maritime logistics.

In May 2022, Hawaiian Airlines first announced an investment in the 100-passenger REGENT Monarch aircraft. They were the first US development partner. Mokulele, on the other hand, signed up as a Regent customer through its parent company, Southern Airways Express, two years ago. Mokulele has purchased 15 of the 12-passenger Viceroy ships plus 5 of the 100-passenger Monarch ships.

What is interesting about Hawaii is that the boats/planes travel from port to port instead of using airports as with conventional air travel. This could thus become the next generation of elusive Hawaii coastal transit ferries. Additionally, the company says it offers a smooth ride and significant wave tolerance even in rough sea conditions.

Announcing the REGENT partnership, Hawaiian CMO Avi Mannis said, “Innovative inter-island transportation has been at the core of our business since 1929, when we replaced steamships with airplanes. We are excited to be an early investor in REGENT and to be involved in the development of their largest sea glider – a vehicle with great potential for Hawaii’s most comfortable and environmentally responsible inter-island transportation.”

Japan Airlines is investing over $40 million in REGENT Seaglider.

Last week, Japan Airlines announced its strategic investment in REGENT. That’s because the company has booked over $5 billion in orders to date.

JAL’s Innovation Fund will invest over $40 million in this move to integrate the Seaglider concept into JAL’s aircraft network.

“This strategic investment speaks to the increasing adoption of Seaglider technology by major airlines. At REGENT, we are at the forefront of ushering in a whole new era of sustainable transportation, and the investment from the JAL Innovation Fund gives us the resources and support we need to take an innovative approach to regional travel at lower costs, faster speeds and zero emissions.” — REGENT CEO Billy Thalheimer.

Yasushi Noda, JAL’s executive officer and senior vice president of digital innovation, said the airline is excited to partner with REGENT.

“We are very excited about this investment in REGENT from our CVC, the JAL Innovation Fund. We believe sea gliders are a safe, sustainable, and economical solution, and we’re excited to partner with REGENT to assess demand not just in Japan but around the world. We are excited to add Sea Gliders to JAL’s list of new challenges and honored to work with REGENT to explore the possibilities of Sea Gliders.” — Yasushi Noda, JAL.

REGENT has sold over 400 sea gliders to date.

Regent’s electric sea glider has now garnered hundreds of orders from various industry partners around the world, two of them in Hawaii.

Boston-based startup REGENT was founded by co-founders Billy Thalheimer and Mike Klinker, both MIT graduates who are the company’s CEO and CTO.

Disclosure: We receive a small commission for purchases made through some of the links on Beat of Hawaii. These links cost you nothing and provide the revenue necessary to bring our website to you. Mahalo! Privacy Policy and Disclosures.