Airbus’ slogan, “We make it fly,” is set take on an entirely new meaning – the company’s own transport ships are to be equipped with automated towing kites designed by one of the aircraft makers own ‘start-ups.’
Airbus transports A380 wings along the Dee estuary by barge to the Port of Mostyn where they are loaded onto roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships and transported to assembly plants in Europe.
The vessels will be fitted with ‘SeaWing’ developed by AirSeas, a small Airbus startup which has brought together environmentally-engaged company engineers who share a passion for aeronautics and the sea.
The innovative SeaWing automated kite employs parafoil technology to tow large commercial ships, it’s claimed the application could revolutionize the maritime transport industry
By using the kite to help propel large vessels, SeaWing is expected to provide a 20% improvement in fuel economy while also reducing emissions.
When mounted on a vessel, SeaWing can be launched by the simple activation of a switch.
The kite deploys, unfurls and operates autonomously; with its system collecting and analysing meteorological and oceanic data in real-time to optimise performance while ensuring maximum safety.
When the towing effect is no longer required, SeaWing automatically refolds and is recovered – ready for its next utilisation.
In addition to lowering shipping costs by the targeted 20 percent, SeaWing is expected to reduce Airbus’ overall industrial environmental footprint by 8,000 tons of CO2 per year.
“We are very proud that Airbus has confirmed its confidence in the SeaWing system after seeing our test results first-hand on their own ship,” explained CEO and founder Vincent Bernatets, who previously worked at Airbus in managerial, marketing, after-sales and business development positions. “This first ro-ro vessel installation opens the way for further pioneering deals on container ships, bulk freighters and ferries.”