WATCH: Airseas’ Seawing hits new highs with successful traction flights

Wind propulsion specialist Airseas has achieved an important technical milestone in the sea trials of its Seawing system by successfully validating traction flights on Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ vessel Ville de Bordeaux.

Airseas - Ville de Bordeaux. Traversée Retour n°14R Mobile Montoir. Crédit : Maxime Horlaville / polaRYSE / Airseas

Airseas said that the company has now demonstrated that the wind propulsion system is working as planned, providing its first tonnes of traction that will help reduce the ship’s fuel consumption and emissions.

With automated take-off and landing also fully functional, the next phases of the sea trials will focus on testing dynamic flying, which allows the kite to maximise its traction power, as well as gathering performance data and fine-tuning the automated flight system.

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The validation of traction flights is the latest achievement in the technology’s ongoing sea trials, which are taking place during the Ville de Bordeaux’s commercial operations between Europe and the United States. These trials aim to test the Seawing system, which was developed with expertise on flight control and automation from the aerospace sector, and validate its performance.

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The thorough transatlantic trials are conducted by a team of Airseas engineers on board, with the support of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, which operates the Ville de Bordeaux, and Airbus, which charters the vessel to transport aircraft components.

The completion of this technical milestone also marks an important step towards the industrialisation of the Seawing, with planning well underway to build a factory in Nantes in 2026. Airseas is scaling up its company to meet demand for the solution, with commitments from major shipping lines such as K Line, with whom Airseas has a 20-year agreement, with options for the Seawing to be installed on up to 51 of its vessels in total.

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“We are immensely proud of the technical achievements that we have accomplished so far in our sea trials, and there is more to come. This latest milestone is a particularly important moment for the teams both on board and ashore, who have been working tirelessly to take this innovative system from concept to reality,” Vincent Bernatets, CEO and Co-Founder of Airseas, said.

Now we are moving forward with the renewed confidence that the Seawing works as planned, and we are excited to progress the trials and improve the kite’s performance in the coming weeks and months.”

Stéphanie Lesage, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Airseas, said the new achievement marks the progress in wind propulsion for shipping and demonstrates technology readiness at a crucial tipping point for maritime decarbonisation.

“With IMO and the EU both putting owners and charterers under greater pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the time to act is now. We are dedicated to helping the industry harness the free and widely available energy of the wind to help reduce the climate impact of shipping, helping them not only comply with regulations, but also do good for society and the planet,” Lesage added.

Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has completed the installation of the first Seawing on a Capesize bulk carrier at the end of 2022.

The second vessel to feature a Seawing will be a newbuild LNG-fuelled 210,000 dwt bulk carrier, which is currently being built at Nihon Shipyard. According to the Japanese shipowner, the installation will follow upon the vessel’s delivery, which is scheduled for 2024.

In July 2022, the company confirmed orders for three additional Seawing systems, bringing to a total of five the number of its vessels that will use Airseas’ wind propulsion technology to reduce their emissions.

At the end of March 2023, K Line revealed that it has reached a deal with compatriot electric utility Electric Power Development (J-POWER) to install the Seawing on a coal carrier.

The vessel in question is Corona Citrus, an 88,000 DWT-type special coal carrier chartered out to J-POWER.

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