The luxury aircraft/watercraft is being developed by Switzerland’s AirYacht company, which was founded by engineers Guillaume Hoddé and Matthieu Ozanne. French yacht designer Franck Darnet is responsible for its looks and layout.
Putting it simply, the AirYacht consists of two parts: a helium-filled airship, and a streamlined yacht which is coupled to its underside.
When in flight, the yacht serves as the airship’s gondola, housing the crew along with up to 12 passengers. If the owner wants to cruise on the sea, however, the yacht can be detached from the airship, lowered down on a set of cables, then released from those cables once it reaches the water’s surface. The process is reversed when it comes time to winch the yacht back up to the airship.
Needless to say, the aircraft needs to be hovering reasonably close to the water while all of this is happening. It will reportedly utilize an “air buoyancy” control system to keep from suddenly shooting up into the air when it releases all that weight from its underside. There’s currently no word on how the airship will maintain its position while everyone takes off in the yacht.
Alternatively, if the owner wants to be land-based for a while, the yacht can once again be lowered and released, this time sitting on the ground via a set of struts that are deployed from its hull. On the other hand, for shorter trips to the ground, an elevator-like 12-passenger lift can be lowered on cables from the underside of the yacht, while the latter remains attached to the airship.
Depending on factors such as cruising speed and the number of passengers/crew, the AirYacht is intended to remain self-sufficient for periods of up to one week.
As far as basic specs go, the airship will be 200 meters (656 ft) long and will utilize a hybrid fuel/electric drive system to travel at speeds of up to 50 knots (93 km/h or 58 mph). Ozanne tells us that due to a confidentiality agreement with the partnering company which is developing the aircraft, few other details can be shared at this time.
The three-story yacht component will be 52 m long by 13 m wide by 11 m high (171 by 43 by 36 ft), and will incorporate five to six cabins. Along with the 12 passengers and three flight crew members, it will also be capable of accommodating a 12-person “hospitality crew.” Some of its other planned features include fore and aft sundecks; a Jacuzzi, sauna and swimming pool(!); a helipad; plus a garage in which vehicles such as a car, tender boat or Jet Skis could be stored.
No performance specs are available for the yacht at this point.
The AirYacht has reportedly been in development since 2017, with plans calling for the first one to be ready for action in 2026 – one to four units will then be produced each year. Not surprisingly, Ozanne says that pricing will only be discussed with potential buyers during a confidential interview. Interested parties can contact the company via its website.