The first shots were released with futuristic zero-emission paragliders that could reduce the cost of flying around New Zealand.
Ocean Flyer has ordered 25 electric sea gliders for the New Zealand market, which will be used to transport passengers between coastal cities and towns for a fraction of the price of traditional airlines. It is estimated that fares between Whangārei and Auckland could be as low as $ 30 or Christchurch and Wellington as low as $ 60.
The revolutionary form of transport is partly ferry, partly airplane and partly hydrofoil – which travels at high speed just off the surface of the water using a phenomenon known as the “ground effect”. This means that the elevation near the ground increases and the drag is reduced – giving the sea paragliders more range.
The gliders are manufactured by US-based startup Regent, which has orders worth $ 4.6 billion (NZ $ 7.2 billion).
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New Zealand-based Ocean Flyer has made an initial deposit of $ 1 million for 25 aircraft, an order that will eventually cost about $ 700 million.
Late last month, Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam flew to Tampa, Florida to see the first quarter-size prototype flown, and now footage of the show has been released (you can watch more).
“People are excited to see the video, we were watching it up close, so you can only imagine our excitement,” Aslam said.
The first coastline to reach New Zealand will be the Zero Emission Viceroy, which is a 12-seater version. It is expected to be operational by 2025.
The next generation Monarch cruise will have a capacity of 100 passengers and is expected to be put into service in 2028.
Aslam also unveiled early plans to expand operations across Tasmania and the Pacific, following the founding of the New Zealand network.
Describes a “triangle” of businesses that would connect New Zealand, Australia and Pacific countries such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Aslam is on a uptrend: “If you were to ask me at this stage to set a date around when the full triangle would be completed, I would say before 2030 – before we get to the next decade.
“And in terms of speed, they will probably cross the Tasman in the same amount of time as an A320 or 737.”
Travel services are also on the radar, with Aslam saying that gliders could eventually be used as a zero-carbon way to get to places like Stewart Island.
Aslam explains that large inflations will not be a problem in most conditions, as the optimal altitude for a sea paraglider above the water is 10 meters – but this can be extended up to about 30 to 40 meters.
The next development step is a full-scale prototype, which is expected to be on the water later this year.
Aslam also hopes a protester will be able to arrive in New Zealand next year.
Regent was founded by a team of high-flying engineers, many of whom have worked for Boeing and Oracle Team USA.
High-profile investors include Peter Thiel and Mark Cuban.