Details from Airbus aircraft will be transported across the ocean by kites

    03 Jan 2022

    While you probably associate kites with your childhood, you might not associate them with the shipping industry.

    Details from Airbus aircraft will be transported across the ocean by ships equipped with giant kites. The thrust of a sail with an area of ​​1000 square meters will reduce fuel consumption and pollution.

    In early 2022, the 154-meter-long Ville de Bordeaux, which carries parts for Airbus SE aircraft, will begin using a kite-lift called the Seawing. Before the full launch of the project are six months of testing, which is nearing completion, Bloomberg states.

    According to the creator of Seawing – Airseas, such a snake with an area of ​​1000 square meters, if it flies at an altitude of 300 meters, will reduce fuel consumption and emissions from ships by about 20%.

    Shipping carries more than 80% of all goods sold globally, but it also accounts for almost 3% of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide.

    Shipping companies are interested in reducing emissions, as required by several large customers who insist that their own supply chains pollute the environment less.

    In addition, decarbonization is one of the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement.

    As Euronews reported, Airbus A320 aircraft are in such demand that their queue is scheduled for two years ahead.

    One company is trying to change this by taking the humble kite to new heights. Founded by former Airbus engineers, French tech firm Airseas has invented the ‘Seawing,’ a 1000m² parafoil that, according to its website, harnesses wind power to provide 90 tonnes of traction.

    It is estimated that this could reduce fuel consumption and emissions from cargo ships by up to 40%.

    The shipping industry, which transports around 80% of the world’s goods, is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, something that Airseas is determined to change.

    According to Satista, container ships emitted 140 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2020, while the industry as a whole accounted for 11% of the world’s transport carbon emissions.

    The company is aiming to equip 15% of the world’s cargo fleet with its Seawing technology by 2030.

    The parafoil flies over 200m above sea level and will be tested out next year on Ville de Bordeaux’s cargo ship. Currently chartered by Airbus to ship aircraft components across the Atlantic between France and the US, the 154-meter vessel will take part in a six-month trial.

    The parafoil flies over 200m above sea level and will be tested out next year on the cargo ship Ville de Bordeaux.

    It will use a half-sized, 500m² Seawing to make the journey from France to the US. The trial will run from January 2022 and has received formal approval from classification society, Bureau Veritas to begin operations at sea.

    “A decade ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channeling our unique aviation expertise towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry,” says Vincent Bernatets, CEO and Co-Founder of Airseas.

    “Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision becoming a reality, with our first Seawing ready to make a tangible difference for our planet.”

    How does the Seawing work?

    According to Airseas, the Seawing is operated by a simple switch mechanism, which launches or recovers the kite. It then unfolds and refolds autonomously. All the while, the system collects meteorological and oceanic data, allowing it to adapt to changing weather patterns.

    “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,” says Bernatets.

    Seawing can be deployed on virtually any ship, say Airseas, helping to support the transition to more sustainable fuels.

    “Wind propulsion is one of these and will play an essential role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonization transition.”


    Many are talking about the future solution: renewable energy. What else will the sun, wind, and water give us? Overcoming poverty, electrifying inaccessible areas, and achieving carbon neutrality: how and where are such technologies implemented? Let’s find the answers here.

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