Airlander Prepares for Flight Once More

  • Structural damage sustained on the Flight Deck during its second Test Flight last August has now been repaired.
  • Airlander is now in an extensive test phase prior to its next flight.
  • Today we announce a number of the improvements implemented since last year:
    • We have added an Auxiliary Landing System which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously.
    • Ground support equipment improvements have been implemented, including the ability to recover the mooring line once it has been released from storage.
    • Analysis of how the aircraft performed on its two August flights have been reviewed in detail to allow enhanced training in normal and emergency conditions for Airlander’s flight crew.The Airlander team are pleased to announce that the structural damage sustained to the Flight Deck during its second Test Flight last August has now been repaired.  Following this successful repair of the Flight Deck structure, Airlander is now structurally complete ahead of Hangar Exit and resuming the Flight Test Programme.
The key visible change is that we now have an Auxiliary Landing System (ALS) which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously. This has been fitted forward of the main landing gear (skids) and, like our main landing gear, is a pressurised air cushion which contacts the ground during a landing.

In addition we have made a series of improvements to our ground systems to reduce the chance of an equipment failure such as the problem with the mooring mast winch that triggered the incident in August last year. We are also modifying the aircraft to make sure that if the mooring line were ever to hang down from the aircraft again, as it did that day, it can be recovered so that it does not interfere with the approach and landing of the aircraft.

We have extensively analysed and reviewed the telemetry data, and video/audio (both on-board and from the ground), which has allowed us to understand how the aircraft performed in great detail. We have fed the results of that work back into our simulator, which has allowed much more realistic training in normal and emergency conditions for our flight crew, which will help us to manage a wider range of potential scenarios than was previously the case. This will help the crew if they are again called upon to respond to unexpected events such as last August’s unplanned steep approach to the airfield, which was caused by the mooring line hanging down underneath it.

A rigorous testing and training programme has now commenced to prepare for Airlander taking to the skies again. “Over this period the whole focus of the team has been to improve the way we work and the way we operate the aircraft so that our next stage of flying achieves all of our objectives. Our work in this has been guided by our investigations, which were conducted and reviewed in line with the exhaustive standards that are the norm across the aerospace industry,” says Tom Grundy, Operations Director.

Hybrid Air Vehicles continues to benefit from strong investor and customer support, and are progressing a number of customer demonstrations opportunities and potential sales.  Hybrid Air Vehicles CEO, Steve McGlennan says, “Throughout the last six months we have been heartened by the many messages of support from people outside our immediate business who understand the learning process that is at the heart of flight test.  We have every confidence that, in delivering the key learning points that we have identified, we will be in a great position to deliver a safe, robust and effective flight test programme when we get back into the air.  We look forward to showing off the best of British innovation and Engineering to the world again very soon.”

We are pleased to report that our insurers, led by Allianz, have helped us significantly in the phase after our heavy landing - reflecting their confidence in the Airlander’s upcoming test flight programme. Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd is not announcing a specific date for the next flight of Airlander. Achieving a safe flight is the priority, and we will make further announcements in due course.
 
About Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd

Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft. They utilise new aerospace technology that combines the best of the characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and operating cost than other forms of air transport.

Airlanders are low noise, low pollution, and are environmentally-friendly. They have ultra-long endurance, and a point-to-point cargo-carrying capacity. They can take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded both UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project. In addition the company has carried out two ‘crowdfunding’ rounds and is proud to have more than 2000 shareholders without whom return to flight would not have been possible.
 
The Airlander project was selected for funding through a dedicated SME Instrument of Horizon 2020, which the European Commission uses to invest in and support high growth and highly innovative small businesses. The technology is also fully in line with activities under the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport Societal Challenge of Horizon 2020, which aims to boost the competitiveness of the European transport industries and achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate-and-environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society.

Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfil a wide range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights.

Please visit http://www.hybridairvehicles.com/about-us/invest-in-us for more details about investment opportunities.
Please visit www.hybridairvehicles.com and Hybrid Air Vehicles on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and on Instagram.

For images, please visit
www.hybridairvehicles.com/news-and-media/press/image-downloads.

For general media enquiries, contact Chris Daniels, Head of Partnerships and Communications at chris.daniels@hybridairvehicles.net or on 01234 336415.
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Plans for the Growing Airlander Business
Anyone living close to Cardington cannot help but notice the huge changes that have happened since HAV moved in nearly 4 years ago. We now have over 100 people on the site most days, and share our hangar with a very busy Warner Bros film studio and storage site. Next door in Hangar 2 the film industry is also making great progress, so busy days at Cardington now see over 1000 people arrive for a day’s work. With new roads and new housing coming, the pace of change will not slow down any time soon. At HAV, our focus now is on building from the great success of the initial Airlander 10 testing, and preparing to produce Airlander aircraft and deliver them all over the globe. So this is a natural time for us to make sure that we are set up for the future with the right site and the right facilities and we have been reviewing our needs to ensure that we can do just that. As a result we have concluded that we now need to begin a process of moving HAV to a new site, away from Cardington. We have worked with everyone on and around the site to make every effort to find a way to stay here, but after that extensive exercise we believe that moving is the right and pragmatic decision for us. We are proud of what we have achieved in the last 4 years and we couldn’t have done it without Cardington. We are constantly amazed by the support and affection of the vast majority of people and businesses in our area, and we are pleased to bring jobs and, we hope, other benefits including our STEM work and other activities to Bedford. We also benefit from the great transport links of this area and its proximity to London. So we’re very pleased to say that we don’t plan to move far. We will make further announcements in the coming weeks, and these will start with a new location for our Engineers and our other office-based teams to work from locally as from the beginning of December. You will also hear in the coming weeks that we will start to use other airfields a little further away to undertake testing and other operations of Airlander. We have been preparing for this transition for a long time – including right from the start by designing Airlander to be maintained and supported outside without need for a hangar after it is built. We’ve been busy this year proving all of our maintenance techniques work without coming back in to the hangar and have made very good progress with that. With extended flight testing and customer demonstrations about to start, some of which need more take-off and landing distance than Cardington allows, this is the right time for Airlander to start visiting some new locations. Finally, we hope to announce at a later date where our planned production location for Airlander will be sited. This location will be the focal point of new employment both in HAV and our supply chain providing nearly 2000 additional jobs in the UK, delivering parts and sub-assemblies for building, testing and delivering 12 or more aircraft per year. We plan to do this from “right-size” hangars, purpose designed for Airlander 10. We are now working to finalise the design for these and will reveal more in future issues. For now, though, we can reveal that our approach to this has been as innovative as you would expect, and we have turned to the event structures industry to develop a road-transportable hangar that can be erected very rapidly in a new location. This gives us - and our customers - the flexibility to respond quickly to demand for hangars here, or in the future operating locations for the aircraft. All this makes it a very exciting time for HAV and the Airlander project. This is, of course, tinged with real sadness to be starting to move away from Cardington and gratitude to everyone in and around us for their support and help over the years here. We hope that Cardington can remain a testing and mooring site for Airlander – as we believe it should - long into the future. With 100 years of heritage behind it, and Airlander just beginning its journey into the world, who knows what new chapters of our industry will be written at Cardington in the future?

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