a smarter solution for cargo transport


france-based practice airseas installs its first automated seawing kite to a cargo ship chartered by airbus. following the announcement, the team will commence six months of trials in january. while the kite is half-sized, the full-size kite is expected to save up to 20 percent of fuel burn and emissions.


dubbed ‘ville de bordeaux,’ the 154-meter (505-foot) airseas vessel is owned and operated by louis dreyfus, and is currently on a long-term lease to airbus (see more here), which uses it to move large aircraft structures between its distributed manufacturing plants around europe and its final assembly plant in toulouse.

airseas kiteimages courtesy of airseas



the fuel-saving kite by airseas


airseas (see more here) has now fitted the cargo ship with a 500-square-meter (5,400 square foot) parafoil kite, in addition to all the deck and bridge equipment required to run the seawing system. the seawing, which deploys automatically first emerges from storage on a trolley, then raises up from the deck on a mast to catch the wind. finally, it is released on a long cable to grab the steady, strong winds over about 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level.


now, the kite begins a figure-eight trajectory at a speed over 100 km/h (62 mph), monitored and controlled by an automated system running on the ship that’s programmed to place the kite for maximum traction power. the seawing computers also interface with the ship’s navigation systems, monitoring forward wind conditions and re-routing the ship to take the most efficient path possible without affecting its arrival time.

airseas kite



the airseas kite will soon undergo testing is half the size of the full 1,000 square meter (10,800-square foot) kite that will soon be deployed for commercial operation. airseas expects that the full-size system will cut both diesel consumption and shipping emissions by a remarkable 20 percent. germany’s skysails group has tested similar devices up to 400 square meters (4,300 square foot) in size, finding they replace up to two mw of power from the main engines under favorable wind conditions.



airseas kite



project info:


company: airseas

client: airbus