Monday, January 17, 2022
Maritime Propulsion

December 16, 2021

First Ship Fit with 'Seawing' Kite Propulsion System

(Photo : Cinétique Films / Airseas)

A French ro-ro ship will be the first commercial vessel to trial a novel wind-assisted propulsion system designed to curb emissions from shipping

Airseas said it has installed its Seawing system on the vessel Ville de Bordeaux owned and operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. The ship, which is chartered by Airbus to transport major aircraft components between France and the U.S., will deploy the 500-square meter 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 classification society Bureau Veritas to begin operations at sea, following three years of close collaboration on the development and early trials of the Seawing.

According to Airseas, a French company founded in 2016 by former Airbus engineers, its Seawing system combines kite technology with an automated flight control system and can be safely deployed, operated and stored at the push of a button. It can be retrofitted on a ship in two days.

Airseas’ full size Seawing is a 1,000-square-meter parafoil which flies at an altitude of 300 meters, capturing the strength of the wind to propel the vessel. Based on modeling and preliminary testing on land, Airseas estimates that the Seawing system will enable an average 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the company said.

Vincent Bernatets, CEO and Co-Founder of Airseas, said, “A decade ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channeling 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. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. In shipping, we can achieve this by using the full set of tools we have available to us today. Wind propulsion is one of these and will play an essential role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonization transition.”

Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice President Technical & Operations at Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore, said, “This important milestone follows three years of close and fruitful collaboration on the development and early trials of the Seawing, supporting Airseas’ safety-first approach and validating the reliability of the system. As a class society, Bureau Veritas has a key role to play to support safe innovation, and this is why we have developed comprehensive rules on wind propulsion systems earlier this year. At BV, we are dedicated to help the maritime sector navigate the challenges of the energy transition, and we fully believe that wind propulsion technology represents a key opportunity to start decarbonizing the maritime sector immediately.”