Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) pioneering new aircraft, the Airlander 10, is making swift progress towards its first passenger flight as the UK based company moves from the research to production phase of the project.
Tom Grundy, CEO of HAV, said the project was “moving really fast” and that passenger flights could come “quite early in the development of Airlander”.
Ready for market
He said: “Things are moving really fast for HAV. We’ve come out of a long period of research and development, getting Airlander ready for the market, and working this year to activate production so that we can bring Airlander into service with its first customers in 2026.
“We think passenger flights might come quite early in the development of Airlander. Our long term markets, a lot of them are about freight, a lot of them are about moving people and things to more remote parts of the world. But in the early stages of Airlander, we are likely to see Airlander aircraft being used in fantastic tourism experiences and also short haul flights, moving 100 people point to point.”
Last week Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum agreed a deal with HAV for 10 of its helium-filled hybrid aircraft, making the carrier its launch customer.
Key to HAV’s pitch are the eco-credentials of the Airlander aircraft, which will deliver up to 75 per cent reduction in emissions over comparable aircraft. HAV is developing electric motors with the goal to deliver a hybrid-electric Airlander 10 from 2025. This will provide a 90 per cent reduction in emissions.
In time, all four of Airlander 10’s engines will be electric, giving future customers the option for a zero-emissions aircraft, in service by 2030.
Grundy said: “Hydrogen is really important for us and it is really important for the industry more generally. For Airlander, we start with a platform that is 75 per cent more efficient than other aeroplanes, even if we are just using kerosene. As we go into service we expect to bring hydrogen on board in hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors, they are already in development. That means when we come into service, there will be a 90 per cent emissions reduction compared to anything else flying. We will be net zero by the end of the decade. Hydrogen, we think, will be a big force in the next generation of regional aircraft and maybe bigger beyond that.”
Logistics and defence
Commenting on other projects in the pipeline, Grundy added: “Airlander is an innovative programme, every part of it is exciting. We will be moving into logistics, and we also have defence roles for the product.
“As we take that product into the market, as well as the aircastt itself we will be beginning big electric motors, hydrogen fuel cells and all those technologies on board. So a really exciting future for Airlander and those technologies will mature as we bring them to market.
“The other thing that is super exciting for us, this is a new production line for the UK. That is new jobs, and new exports, and new green aerospace roles for people here in the UK.”