The Airlander airship from Hybrid Air Vehicles makes low-emission private flights to intrepid locations a possibility. Rose Dykins reports
Committed to being part of a future “zero carbon aviation industry,” Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) Airlander aircraft promises to add a new, luxurious dimension to sightseeing flights.
It is part of HAV’s vision for humanity to travel “further, to more places, with less impact,” while offering an exciting way for groups of luxury travellers to experience remote corners of the world.
The Airlander achieves its lift through a combination of aerodynamics (as with a plane), lifting gases (like an airship) and vector thrust (similar to a helicopter). HAV’s Airlander aircraft travels through the skies by generating 40 per cent of its lift from aerodynamics from air passing over its hull, and the rest comes from helium buoyancy.
When travelling at low speed or close the ground, or landing or taking off, engine power is used, and HAV is currently working on developing an electric engine for the aircraft.
Airlander can take off and land on almost any flat surface. As it needs minimal supporting infrastructure, Airlander can operate in remote locations, so it can access intrepid places that jets, helicopters and yachts cannot. It also means the vehicle’s environmental impact is greatly reduced.
“Airlander changes the way people think about Aviation,” reads HAV’s website. “We’re redefining what aircraft can do, how aviation can address the challenges facing our world, and how mature technologies can be brought together in new ways. With Airlander, we’re rethinking the skies.”
So far, HAV has flown a full-scale of its Airliner 10 aircraft, and it is now ready to enter operation, with the capacity to carry 90 passengers at once for group excursions or private events such as dinner in the sky. Airlander 10’s range is 2,000 nautical miles. It has a gentle top speed of 130 km/ph – making it ideal for slowly taking in scenery – and it can stay airborne for a total of five days.
Thanks to its hybrid approach to achieving lift, the aircraft burns significantly less fuel than comparable planes and helicopters. It’s also cheaper and more efficient to maintain, and quieter while in flight.
The Airlander 10 model can be configured to suit different needs for hosting and entertaining – with the option to have an onboard bar, lounge area and accommodation. For example, it can hold up to 40 people for a banquet, or 16 passengers for an overnight stay in private suites. In-flight power and wifi will also be available.
As well as the potential for unforgettable, eco-friendly sightseeing by air, the Airliner airship presents huge possibilities for freight, defense and security and the maritime industry, with the use of HAV’s larger aircraft, the Airliner 50.
“We see Airlander technology as a way of connecting unconnected things,” reads HAV’s website.
“That may be people to places, bringing travellers to some of the wildest places on Earth. It may be delivering equipment to remote mining operations and communities, or disaster-affected areas. It may be linking data from sensors in the air to the human decision makers on the ground.”
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