Airbus has placed an order for an automated kite, manufactured by maritime technology startup Airseas, that will be used to tow one of its commercial ships, thereby reducing fuel costs and emissions.
The aerospace giant owns a fleet of four ro-ro vessels, which it uses to transport aircraft parts between Europe and the US. The kite, named SeaWing, will reduce Airbus’ environmental footprint by some 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Vessel operators can launch and recover the kite – which unfolds, operates and refolds autonomously – using a single switch. Equipped with sensors, SeaWing is able to collect and analyse oceanic and meteorological data in real time. It then uses this information to optimize its performance.
“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,” says Vincent Bernatets, CEO of Airseas. “This first ro-ro vessel installation opens the way for further pioneering deals on container ships, bulkers and ferries.”
The Airbus order comes at a time of increased interest in proven propulsion-assisting technologies. In August Maersk announced that it had installed two rotor sails, based on the century old Flettner rotor concept, on one of its product tankers.