French tech pioneer Airseas has completed the first installation of its automated kite Seawing on a commercial vessel, marking an important milestone in the deployment of wind-assisted technologies to curb emissions from shipping.
The wind propulsion solution has been placed on the 2004-built roro , chartered by Airbus and operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. The vessel, which transports major aircraft components between France and the US, will deploy the 500 sq m Seawing on its monthly transatlantic journeys from January 2022, conducting six months of sea trials and testing ahead of its full operation.
Airseas has received formal approval from French classification society Bureau Veritas to begin operations at sea, following three years of collaboration on the development and early trials of the Seawing.
Founded by former Airbus engineers, Airseas integrates expertise from the aeronautical sector, including digital twin and automation technology, to the maritime industry. “This means that the Seawing can be safely deployed, operated and stored at the push of a button, and can be retrofitted on a ship in two days,” claimed Airseas.
Vincent Bernatets, CEO and co-founder of Airseas, said: “A decade ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channelling our unique aviation expertise towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry. Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision becoming reality, with our first Seawing ready to make a tangible difference for our planet. This first installation marks a significant milestone not only for Airseas, but also for wind and other renewable propulsion technologies in general.”
The full-sized Seawing is a 1,000 sq m parafoil that flies at an altitude of 300 m, capturing the strength of the wind to propel the vessel. Based on modelling and preliminary testing on land, Airseas estimated that the Seawing system will enable an average 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.