REGENT is making a flying electric ferry with a top speed of 180 miles per hour

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Billy Thalheimer (CEO) and Michael Klinker (CTO) of REGENTREGENT

A Boston start-up called REGENT wants to make flying ferries the best way to travel between coastal cities.

The start-up is developing an “electric sea glider” that can motor out of a harbor on a hydrofoil, take off at a low speed using the water as a runway, then fly over the waves at a top speed of 180 miles per hour to bring passengers to their destinations, according to co-founders CEO Billy Thalheimer and CTO Michael Klinker.

The duo previously worked for a Boeing company, Aurora Flight Sciences, and both are FAA-licensed private pilots. Thalheimer told CNBC that REGENT wants to make trips between coastal cities fast, safe, affordable and reliable with the smallest possible environmental footprint. (The company’s name is an acronym for Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport.)

The sea gliders that REGENT designed technically fall in the category of Wing in Ground Effect craft, or WIGs. They have not historically been regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, but instead by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Importantly, REGENT is developing its gliders to work with existing harbor infrastructure, the CEO says. He notes that charging is still needed at harbors for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles there, whether electric air taxis, boats or ground vehicles.

The company will seek to establish passenger routes between major hubs like Boston and New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, or shorter routes like New York City to the Hamptons or routes connecting the islands of Hawaii.

(Illustration) REGENT is developing a flying, electric sea glider with a top speed of 180 miles per hour.Courtesy: REGENT

But for now, with $9 million in fresh seed funding in hand, the start-up is focusing on a prototype.

“We’re going to be flying a quarter-scale prototype by the end of this year,” said Thalheimer. “The prototype will have about a 15-foot wingspan, and will weigh about 400 pounds. We need to make sure it works in representative operational environments, like in waves and different weather.”

The company is expecting to do its first flight in the Boston area, but is shopping around for someplace to conduct