AIRBUS is to install a sail on one of its ro-ro vessels that transport large aircraft parts among its production sites in Europe and the US.
Dubbed “SeaWing”, the sail system is an automated kite that employs parafoil technology to tow large commercial ships. It is expected to provide a 20% improvement in fuel economy and also reduce emissions.
Airbus estimates SeaWing could reduce the company’s overall environmental footprint by 8000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
When installed on a vessel, the SeaWing system can be launched by flipping a switch. The kite unfurls and operates autonomously, with its system collecting and analysing meteorological and oceanic data in real time to optimise performance while ensuring safety.
When the towing effect is no longer required, the SeaWing automatically re-folds and is recovered, ready for the next time it’s needed.
SeaWing was developed by AirSeas, a small Airbus startup that brings together company engineers with a common passion for aeronautics and the sea.
AirSeas CEO Vincent Bernatets said the first ro-ro vessel installation of the system opens the way for further pioneering deals on container ships, bulkers and ferries.
“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,” he said.
SeaWing has been designed for a rapid integration on almost all commercial ships in operation today, with its simple and modular nature enabling the installation during a regular stopover at a port of call.