Airlander Readies Itself for First Flight in 2016

Airlander Readies Itself for First Flight in 2016

As we attach yet more hard structure to the Airlander, and prepare for the engines, fins and Mission Module being attached to the Hull in January, we look back at the highlights from a trailblazing year for the largest aircraft in the world.

Over the last few weeks we have attached:
  • The battens at the rear of the Airlander. The carbon composite battens provide structural support for the rear engines.
  • The port tailcone. This is what the engine itself attaches to.
  • The first engine pylon. The pylon is both a systems bay and the structural support for the front engine.
We have also built a state-of-the-art Flight Simulator that is now up and running, and the first "flight" was undertaken by CBBC Technobabble presenter, Frankie Vu, ably guided by our in-house Test Pilot, Dave Burns.

The Year 2015 in Summary

2015 has been a huge year for Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) in terms of ground-breaking achievements in all aspects of the business – from completing a record-breaking CrowdCube fundraiser and winning significant awards and grants, to commencing the engine test program, filling the Airlander with helium and floating for the first time.

Finally, engine testing continues putting them through their full range of speeds, ready for the Flight Test programme.
The revolutionary Airlander 10 combines lighter-than-air technology with the best of aeroplanes and helicopters to bring brand new capabilities to aircraft. We produce less noise, less pollution, have a lower carbon footprint, longer endurance (remains airborne for up to three weeks) and better cargo-carrying capacity than virtually any other flying vehicle, with the ability to land and take-off from any surface, including ice, desert and even water.

HAV’s huge potential was further vindicated when it received multiple financial awards over the course of the year, beginning with a £3.4 million UK Regional Growth Fund being awarded followed by a €2.5 million EU Grant being awarded by Horizon 2020, in recognition of Airlander’s 33% reduction in fuel burn, compared with conventional aircraft, and less reliance on existing infrastructure.

In March, HAV launched a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, with a staggering £2.4 million raised in two months and 983 shareholders from across the globe welcomed to the company. Our investors now include PLC chairmen, experienced business angels, corporate financiers and the Crowd.

Funding will be directed towards helping create a regulatory framework to allow the Airlander to be used in Europe and so contribute to a, ‘Smart, Green and Integrated Transport,’ system as well as ensuring continued economic growth and lasting employment in the UK. We have already expanded our workforce of 20 to 115 in less than a year and brought our game-changing vehicle closer to revolutionising transport forever.

In February the Engine Test Program was initiated by Alistair Birt, MP, Dame Glynne Evans and Sir Gerald Howarth, MP and on the cusp of 2016 we are getting ready to commence attaching them to the hull. Another landmark development was achieved in November when the hull was filled with helium for the first time and floated to the front of the hangar, shortly after the grand opening of Cardington hangar by Mayor Dave Hodges in front of assembled delegates and press.

At the outset of 2015 HAV embarked on its STEM Outreach Programme and has forged strong ties with local and national education establishments, employing two engineering apprentices and one business apprentice as well as a Year In Industry gap year student. You can find out more by watching the Bedford Engineering Skills Partnership video about us.

The Airlander was used as the theme for the 2015 Schools Aerospace Challenge and HAV was delighted to host a webinar as well as treating the finalists to a hangar tour – one of many student groups to visit this year. HAV is also encouraging women into Science and Engineering and was proud to host a workshop for 60 14-year-old girls as part of the residential course at RAF Cranfield.

"Airlander is a powerful catalyst through which students can explore and enjoy STEM-related topics, developing their knowledge and interests as their education and career plans progress." Barry Robertson – HAV STEM Ambassador

Continuing in the prize winning tradition of 2014, HAV won the Regional and National Award for SE England at the EEF/Aldermore Future Manufacturing Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of manufacturing. This is given to, "the UK manufacturer judged to have most successfully designed and delivered a new product to market that has also driven innovation in manufacturing." We are also finalists in the Cleantech Innovate Awards for 2016, having been shortlisted from 136 applicants also making low carbon innovations.

So as 2016 approaches work is accelerating here in Cardington hangar, with daily developments evident on the Airlander. Our team of experts drawn from across the globe are finally seeing their tireless work come to fruition, with our unique simulator ready for our singularly qualified experimental test pilot to prepare for flight.

Over the coming weeks we will be preparing to attach the engines to the hull whilst the giant tailfins are completed and fitted. The fuel module is currently at rest under the mammoth hull and will be attached before the bells ring in 2016 whilst the finishing touches are made to the cockpit.

If you wish to follow us during the next crucial stages of our exciting story then please contact us for further information:

Please visit and Hybrid Air Vehicles on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

For images, please contact: - (01234) 336430

For videos, please visit: (Google: Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander Youtube)

For general media enquiries, contact Chris Daniels, Head of Partnerships and Communications at or on 01234 336415.
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Airlander Review of 2017
Our goal at Hybrid Air Vehicles is to change the future of aviation through Airlander. Therefore at the start of 2018 we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and achievements demonstrated by Airlander and her dedicated team in 2017, as it is these that will enable us to deliver robust, reliable, efficient and effective solutions to our customers in the future. Following last year’s ground incident, Airlander has now been recovered into the hangar. At present, our team of experts are finalising the investigation into what happened, in tandem with our insurers. Further details will be made public after the full investigation is concluded and reported to relevant authorities later this year.   February – April   Repairs & Improvements Unveiled – At the outset of 2017 the Airlander team were busy completing the final repairs and upgrades to the aircraft before they were officially unveiled in February. The BBC were invited to Cardington Hangar 1 to introduce the two significant enhancements to the public for the first time - the new Auxiliary Landing System (ALS) and the Mobile Mooring Mast (MMM).   “Both of these enhancements are great engineering innovations, and show the creativity and ingenuity of the team working on Airlander to great effect.” Steve McGlennan, CEO Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd.   Hangar Exit – Having received approval to fly once more from the CAA, Airlander emerged from Cardington Hangar 1 in darkness and took up residence on the airfield once again. The new MMM and extensive ground crew training paid off as the move was accomplished rapidly and easily. ELITE & Fundraising – In April Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) joined London Stock Exchange Group’s international business support and capital raising ecosystem, ELITE. This is a full-service programme designed to help ambitious companies prepare and structure for the next stage of growth through the access to long term financing opportunities. It is a unique offering for scale-ups across Europe and beyond, providing a comprehensive training programme and extensive access to the business and financial community.  The ELITE Club Deal private placement platform, launched earlier in 2017, will also help streamline the capital raising process for ELITE companies including Hybrid Air Vehicles.   May   Project LOCATE Completion – This specialist grant programme administered by the Aerospace Technology Institute began in May 2014 and was named LOCATE, standing for LOw CArbon aircraft with Lighter-than-air TEchnology. It has enabled crucial research and development that has firmly positioned the UK as the global leader in hybrid aircraft. HAV is the only company to have flown a full-sized hybrid aircraft in the world and front-runner in a pioneering field that has an independently-valued market of over $45 billion. This research grant helped to develop and enhance the Airlander 10 for its future commercial operations, and maintained the UK’s lead in this technology.   Flight Test Resumption – Within a month of emerging, Airlander returned to the skies once again with a spectacular three hour flight. Over the course of the summer a further three flights took place, providing huge amounts of valuable data to calibrate our knowledge of flight in this brand new type of aircraft. “It was truly amazing to be back in the air. I loved every minute of the flight and the Airlander itself handled superbly. I am eager to get back into the cockpit and take her flying again,” said Chief Test Pilot, Dave Burns.   June   Airlander’s Flight Test Programme Continues - This was the Airlander 10’s fourth flight and second in 2017.  Test Objectives revolved around further expanding the flight envelope and further testing of the flight characteristics. We reached 3700 feet altitude and 37 knots speed.    “It was great to be airborne again and we enjoyed a really successful test flight. We gathered a lot of data during the flight which helps us to optimise and define the performance of this magnificent aircraft.” – Dave Burns, Chief Test Pilot   July Fifth Test Flight - On Tuesday 4 July, Airlander undertook its 5th Test flight. The flight included the proving of an alternative landing technique in preparation for when we commence heavier flight trials (this technique had been developed in the simulator based on data from previous test flights). The flight also included a level-flight acceleration and deceleration run.   August   Innovative Maintenance Techniques – While the pilots took a well-earned break in the summer, it was time for the Airlander’s team of technicians to put their extensive training to good use whilst maintaining the world’s largest aircraft. Hybrid Air Vehicles has developed deep understanding of the tools and techniques needed to maintain Airlander outside, without need for a hangar.  Ascending onto the 26m tall hull to carry out inspections and maintenance is now routine, rapid, safe – and spectacular. “Being up on the hull is a fantastic experience – I didn’t want to come down! It was a privilege to be part of the small team that performed the scheduled safety checks.” – Ivor Pope, Maintenance, Modification and Ground Operations Manager   November   Extended Test Envelope – Following validation of our flight test data analysis, EASA granted permission for Airlander to embark on its second phase of flying at the end of the summer. This allowed Airlander to fly further, faster and higher than before, with extra personnel on board, and to fly for the purpose of demonstrating, as well as testing the aircraft. “We’re thrilled to have commenced the next round of testing; our world class team have really done well.” – Steve McGlennan, CEO Late on Friday 17th November 2017, Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) highly trained test team sprang into action and Airlander was expertly guided into the sky by Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns on her sixth test flight, the first in the next planned stage of expanded flight tests.   Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns was joined by Andrew Barber, as Flight Test Engineer (Andrew’s full working title is Airworthiness and Flight Safety Engineer), whilst Allistair McDicken, Interim Head of Flight Test Organisation & Lead Flight Test Engineer, looked on from the ground.   Incident – On 18 November, there was a ground incident with the pre-production Airlander aircraft, which resulted in extensive damage to the hull and selected assemblies. The aircraft detached from its moorings in light winds for reasons that will be determined from our ongoing investigation. HAV have gathered a great deal of data from all of our flying and ground operations to date which is being used to inform our flight simulation, analysis and design tools ready for the next phase of Airlander development.   December Move – Following a happy four years at Cardington Hangar 1, a decision was taken to move the business HQ to Technology House, Bedford, whilst a small production team has remained in Hangar 2 to work directly with the Airlander. The move went well and the team are settling into their smart new home.   General STEM – Our team of three dedicated volunteer STEM Ambassadors have been hard at work this year and as a result we have engaged with thousands of young enthusiasts across the country through a series of workshops, lectures and events. Highlights include a project with Cambridge UTC, a series of high profile workshops in local schools, cadet and scout groups, presence during events at The Shuttleworth Collection, and heavy involvement with the Wiltshire Festival of Engineering at the behest of their local MP Michelle Donelan. We are proud of our ability to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and our STEM programme is set to expand in 2018 so be sure to keep an eye on progress. Capabilities for our Customers – Attendance at the Dubai Air Show, DSEI and a host of other events in 2017 has continued to demonstrate demand for the efficient, low-cost, low-noise capabilities of Airlander. Airlander is designed to fly for ultra-long endurance flights, with low fuel burn, and to be able to access remote areas for delivery of people, freight and humanitarian aid. We were pleased to announce that Henry Cookson Adventures is to trial Airlander in a luxury tourism capacity and to launch a Design Foundations product to specify the cabin and interior fit of a luxury passenger variant of Airlander. Hybrid Air Vehicles will build on these successes in 2018 in pursuit of our goal to change the future of aviation. Imagine the possibilities. About Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft.  Airlander’s create new capability in the air with ultra-endurance combined with large payloads.  This gives unprecedented surveillance, search and communications aspects, and will ultimately lead to passenger and cargo carrying roles. The Airlander 10 combines the best characteristics of fixed-wing aircraft with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient and sustainable aircraft, with significantly lower pollution – including noise, its carbon footprint or other particles.  This green aircraft also has significantly lower operating costs and maintenance needs than standard forms of air transport.  They can take off and land from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments in a short distance.  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. 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 enthusiastic shareholders. Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd was recently accepted onto London Stock Exchange’s ELITE programme for high growth companies looking to seek a listing on the AIM Stock Market. Over the past few years Hybrid Air Vehicles has won a number of awards which validate our technology, and the great workforce that have created a unique concept and product. Our award successes reflect our remarkable achievements, won through dogged entrepreneurial determination and private investment spanning 40 years. Hybrid Air Vehicles recognise the critical role Airlander plays in inspiring future Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians and we actively educate and encourage young people into STEM careers through collaboration with industry leaders, government bodies, educators and individuals.  HAV currently employs 3 Apprentices, who are studying at Bedford College. *The Airlander project was selected for EU 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. Please visit for more details about investment opportunities. Please visit and Hybrid Air Vehicles on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and on Instagram. For images, please visit For general media enquiries, contact or call 01234 336400.

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