Southern Airways Express is continuing to pioneer the sustainability front of air travel through a commercial agreement with REGENT, the venture-backed aerospace company bringing the groundbreaking fully-electric seaglider into the world of aviation. Together, these forward-thinking companies will bring 20 REGENT seagliders to Southern Airways Express customers with an initial focus in its New York/New England and Southeastern U.S. markets, including Boston, Nantucket, Palm Beach and Miami.
The REGENT seaglider is an all-electric flying vessel that combines the speed, comfort and navigation systems of an aircraft with the convenience, maneuverability and affordability of a boat. Regulated and certified by maritime authorities, the seaglider will transport commercial passengers and critical cargo up to 180 miles at nearly 180 mph with existing battery technology.
Leveraging existing dock infrastructure, REGENT’s seaglider will FLOAT, FOIL, and FLY. From the dock and while in the no-wake zone, the vehicle will float on its hull. Upon reaching 20 mph, it will rise up on its retractable hydrofoil. Hydrofoils offer significant wave tolerance and enhanced passenger comfort as the vehicle leaves the crowded city harbor at speeds between 20-40mph. Upon reaching open water, the vehicle smoothly transitions onto its wing, retracts the foil, and accelerates to a comfortable 180-mph cruise speed– all while staying within 100 feet of the water’s surface.
We sat down with the CEOs of both REGENT, Billy Thalheimer, and Southern Airways Express, Stan Little, to discuss this partnership and what it means for flyers.
Billy Thalheimer – CEO of REGENT
How did the doors of opportunity open between REGENT and Southern Airways?
“Stan and our Director of Business Development, Adam Triolo, met at an event in Vegas where they hit it off immediately. We were both looking at similar ecosystems for similar seaglider operations that Stan was already operating in. As a result, it has been one of our fastest-growing business partnerships due to our goals being so aligned and Stan just saw the vision right away.”
When can we anticipate Southern Airways customers to fly on the seagliders?
“First commercial flights are planned for Q4 of 2025.”
In the meantime, what can we expect to see as this partnership unfolds?
“We are currently testing a quarter-scale prototype. We will be bringing this to Tampa soon to really demonstrate our operations. The unique thing about a seaglider opposed to predecessor vehicles of this type, WIG (Wing-in-Ground-Effect), is a seaglider has a hydrofoil meaning our operations or float, foil and fly. Nobody has done this before and we will show that this can be done safely and effectively with this quarter-scale model. It will be an unmanned prototype to show the proof of concept from there we will progress into a full-scale prototype that will have humans in it by the end of 2023 and that will certainly display the safety and reliability to carry human operators and passengers. We will learn everything we can from these flights and work our findings back into the product design to ensure aircraft levels of safety are met before bringing that first 12 passenger vehicle that will be carrying commercial passengers to market by 2025.”
Stan Little – CEO of Southern Airways Express
How does the addition of the REGENT Seaglider planes to Southern Airway’s fleet make Southern Airways more sustainable than other airlines?
“We’ve been working on green initiatives here at Southern almost since our inception– and especially for the past five years. The addition of the Seagliders is but one facet of a multi-pronged approach at our company. Over the remainder of this decade, we’ll be: (1) retro-fitting our existing Caravan fleet with electric and hybrid-electric motors, so that even 20-year-old airplanes will be flying with brand-new, green propulsion; (2) buying new, not yet available airframes straight from the factory which run only on environmentally-friendly fuels; (3) looking beyond 2030 for propulsion from hydrogen fuel cells; and (4) adding the Regent Seagliders to our fleet. No one else in the commuter industry is taking such a holistic approach.”
What is the main motivation for adding REGENT Seagliders as a form of service to your customers?
“Innovation is the key to remaining at the top of any industry, and Southern/Mokulele is committed to being the most innovative commuter airline in the United States. We’ve always said that we plan to be the first airline to put paying passengers on an electric/hybrid-electric airplane. With the announcement of our being the launch customer of Regent Seagliders, we’ve secured our first-mover position in that field, as well.”
What are you most excited about as Southern Airways enters into this commercial agreement with REGENT to add Seagliders to your fleet of aircraft?
“People just aren’t going to believe how quickly technology changes the landscape of short-haul travel along the coasts, and that’s exciting to me. This will be one of those transformational changes, like when we all canceled our landline phones for wireless. The diesel-powered ferryboat will quickly become a relic of the past when people can travel in quiet comfort on an environmentally-friendly electric seaglider.”