Lift-off: Watch as Airseas kite system takes to the air during sea trials

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France-based wind propulsion developer Airseas has revealed the first pictures and video footage of its automated kite system Seawing in flight during ongoing transatlantic sea trials.

The material is being revealed following the completion of the crucial initial stages of the trials, which are taking place on the vessel Ville de Bordeaux, as it transports aircraft components between Europe and the United States.

The 154m ro-ro vessel is operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) and chartered by Airbus, Airseas’ minority shareholder and launch customer. A team of Airseas engineers is on board to test the system and gather data, with the operational support of LDA’s crew and Airbus’ Transport & Logistics department.

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Airseas said that the first stages of the sea trials have validated key steps such as the folding and unfolding of the wing, take-off and landing, and flights in altitude. The next phase will test the Seawing in a broader range of weather conditions and fine-tune the automation system.

The footage shows the Seawing system in action, flying 200 meters above sea level, harnessing the power of the wind to propel the vessel and reduce the main engine load.

“Seeing the Seawing in action on a commercial vessel is such a proud moment for us, and the culmination of years of meticulous research and development,” Vincent Bernatets, CEO of Airseas, said.

“Testing a brand new technology in real-life conditions and while respecting the operational constraints of a commercial ship is an ambitious endeavour, and the solid progress of our sea trials is a testimony to the dedication of our team of engineers on board and on shore.”

With these strong initial results, we’re more determined than ever to keep testing the system and collecting data, and accelerate our mission to scale up and rapidly deploy wind propulsion technology on vessels around the world. Immediate action is needed to tackle climate change and shipping’s impact on GHG emissions; we are proud to have a solution that can help ships reduce their emissions right now, and accelerate the decarbonisation of the maritime sector over the coming years.”

We are committed to playing an active role in reducing shipping’s carbon emissions, starting now. We are proud to be associated with this project as a supplier and partner of Airbus, working for the success of this innovative wind propulsion solution alongside Airseas,”Antoine Person, Corporate Secretary of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, commented.

Seawing aims to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by an average of 20%. Combining expertise from the aerospace and maritime sectors, it will use digital twins and advanced automation systems to ensure that it can be safely deployed, operated and stored at the push of a button, Airseas said. The solution can be installed on any type of commercial vessel

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In addition to the first system on the Ville de Bordeaux for Airbus, Airseas has also received firm orders from K Line, a Japanese shipowner who owns the fifth largest fleet worldwide, for five Seawing systems, with additional options to equip up to 51 vessels in total.

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The deployment of Seawing on commercial voyages is seen as an important milestone for wind propulsion technology in the maritime sector. The shipping industry, responsible for nearly 3% of global GHG emissions, has very few solutions immediately available to start its decarbonisation journey and reduce its climate impact. A new generation of wind propulsion systems has been developed rapidly in response, and the Seawing constitutes one of the leading examples.

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