Brittany Ferries tabled the space-age proposal last year, with company chiefs now watching as prototypes for the futuristic craft are developed.
Under the scheme, the all-electric sea-skimming gliders would be able to travel from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in just 40 minutes.
Previously, Brittany Ferries said the proposed craft ‘foils like a hydrofoil, hovers like a hovercraft and flies like a plane... with the comfort and convenience of a ferry’.
The 150-capacity craft could be ready for commercial passengers by 2025 – with Brittany Ferries aiming to try and have the first in the fleet sailing between the UK and France by 2028.
The zero-emission vehicles, developed in the United States by Boston-based start-up Regional Electric Ground Effect Naval Transport (Regent), are expected to travel at speeds of up to 180 mph.
They will be about six times faster than conventional ferries, with a battery range of about 180 miles.
Smaller prototypes are currently being tested in Tampa, Florida.
‘We are watching carefully the first test flights of the quarter-size prototype in Florida,’ a Brittany Ferries spokesman told The News this week.
The hi-tech craft, which travel 30ft above the waves, have already proven a popular idea, globally.
Regent hopes the ferries could be used in cities across America, shuttling passengers from Boston to New York and Los Angeles to San Francisco, as well as island-hopping in Hawaii and coastal commuting in New Zealand.
‘Seaglider is an attractive and exciting concept and we look forward to working with Regent in the months and years to come,’ said Frédéric Pouget, ports and operations director for Brittany Ferries. ‘Who knows; this could be the birth of ferries that fly across the Channel.’
Billy Thalheimer, Regent’s co-founder and chief executive, added: ‘Regnet is excited to partner with Brittany Ferries to bring the future of maritime transportation to market.
‘Brittany Ferries offers world-class operational experience which will help Regent ensure that our seagliders will be the most convenient and comfortable form of cross-Channel travel.’