SkySails in Airspace

SkySails propulsion technology is currently at pre-series stage. There are less than 10 ships fitted with this propulsion system worldwide.

The components of the SkySails-System can be divided into two categories: on-board components (launch & re-covery system / steering system) which are installed on the ship and the so-called „flying system“ (towing kite, control pod, towing rope) which performs controlled, dynamic flight maneuvers in the air in front of the ship and thus generates propulsion power.

In routine operations the towing rope of the 160m² towing kite of the SKS C 160 is let out to a length of approx. 280 meters, and the towing rope of the approx. 300m² towing kite of the SKS C 320 is let out to a length of max. 420 meters.

The autopilot lets the towing kite fly defined standard maneuvers – such as a horizontal or vertical figure-eight “8” – at an altitude of 150 to 200 meters off the vessel’s leeward side. A flight pattern such as this normally covers a width of 250 meters and a height of 50 meters.

SkySails-Systems operate offshore, i.e. under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in Class G airspace below 2,500 feet (800 m). This is recognized as uncontrolled airspace where visual flight rules (VFR) apply. The SkySails-System is easily recognizable during daylight because of the towing kite’s size and yellow color and is illuminated when flown at night. From mid-2010 on, ships operating the SkySails will be equipped with flashlights on the top deck (white flashlight during the day and red at night) – comparable to the safety lighting of offshore wind parks.

The operation range in relation to the statutory limits and safety distances is given below for the systems SKS C 160 and SKS C 320 which are already available. The SKS C 640 with a kite area of 600m² kite area and operation radius of up to approx. 600m (indicated by the dashed semi-circle) is under development.

As a preventive measure, information is provided to the aviation authorities of the states being passed to ensure that all pilots are informed using what is called NOTAM (Notice to Airmen). SkySails will continue to recommend to its customers that they adhere to this internationally recognized and proven practice.

Furthermore, SkySails actively conducts consultations with national and international agencies and associations in order to achieve a set of binding and internationally coordinated rules. SkySails will report regularly on this matter