UK based Hybrid Air Vehicles has once again flown the Airlander 10, a hybrid balloon and fixed winged aircraft. The vehicle made its first flight in August 2016 (see posting here). During a subsequent test later that month, the vehicle had a slow-motion crash landing when a mooring line got snagged on power cables. No one was injured but the cockpit had to be rebuilt.
The goal for the vehicle is to combine the short takeoff and landing capabilities of a balloon with the control, stability, speed, and range of an aircraft. Unlike a conventional Zeppelin type of airship, only about 60% of the lift of the Airlander comes from the helium filled volume. The rest of the lift arises from the aerodynamic shape when driven forward by the propellers. The Airlander can remain aloft for up to 5 days.
The company sees cargo delivery as a primary business for Airlander type vehicles:
Airlander aims to revolutionise transport and travel by:
- Being one of the lowest carbon emissions aircraft in the world, like for like.
- Having game-changing endurance (it can stay airborne for weeks rather than hours).
- Providing significantly lower delivery cost for airborne freight.
- Being able to land anywhere (water, land, desert, ice) thus opening up new point-to-point routes to previously inaccessible areas.
We will focus initially on Airlander 10, which has a 10 tonne payload, and ultimately could produce a range of hybrid aircraft capable of carrying up to 1000 tonnes.