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 www.hybridairvehicles.com and Hybrid Air Vehicles on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

For images, please contact: philippa.murrey@hybridairvehicles.net - (01234) 336430

For videos, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnvPhACVf7t4Ykgx1OxgRiQ (Google: Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander Youtube)

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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Latest News

Airlander Returns to the Skies
We are delighted to announce a successful flight of the Airlander 10 this evening (Wednesday 10 May). All objectives of the planned flight were accomplished and the aircraft is now safely back at its masting site. The Airlander was taken off its mooring mast at 17:20 and took off at 17:28. It flew for a total of 180 minutes before landing at 20:15 and was secured safely on the mast at 20:20. “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. On board were Airlander’s two Test Pilots; Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns and Experimental Test Pilot, Simon Davies. This test flight recommenced the Flight Test Programme of the Airlander 10, which started on August 17, 2016. During each of its 3 phases, the Airlander will perform more tasks and be permitted to fly further away from its base in Cardington. This marks the return to the skies of the world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10, and draws a line under the heavy landing it experienced last August. The Airlander has now flown three times in addition to a successful flight as HAV-304 during the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle program in 2012. There were considerable modifications since it was the HAV-304 and the Hybrid Air Vehicles team have made a number of additional modifications since last August, the main ones visible today being a new more powerful and more manoeuvrable Mobile Mooring Mast (MMM), and the additional “landing feet” of the Auxiliary Landing System (ALS). There were three Test Objectives during today’s flight, all of which were successfully achieved: To conduct a full test flight – i.e. complete a safe take-off, flight and landing of the aircraft. To establish basic handling characteristics of Airlander within a well-defined flight envelope including assessment of the new ALS. To collect flight performance data, such as handling, airspeed and all vehicle systems, for post-flight analysis. (This increases the understanding of the aircraft’s performance, capabilities and operating envelope.)  The ALS performed as expected on landing, and the Flight Test Team were very pleased with the initial analysis of this new addition to Airlander’s landing system.    Ultimately the Airlander 10 will break the mould of aviation, providing an ultra-stable, ultra-powerful and ultra-long endurance platform that will be useful in a huge number of roles from search and rescue, to border control, coastguarding, crowd monitoring, security, filming, academic research and filming.  There will also be passenger variants for the ultimate flying experience and eventually Hybrid Air Vehicles will fulfil a crucial role in point-to-point cargo transportation to remote areas.   “This is a great testament to the tenacity and ingenuity of the team of engineers at Hybrid Air Vehicles, who are continually pushing the boundaries of aviation with this amazing aircraft,” said Technical Director, Mike Durham.    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 Stock Market.   The next few flights are likely to be at least a week or two apart, in order to give time for a full analysis of the data collected on the flight.    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.  

Video Channel

How Collaborative Expertise Launched the Airlander Project
A video from The Institution of Engineering and Technology explaining how Hybrid Air Vehicles has been working with Forward Composites to apply decades of race-bred British carbon composite expertise in the development and manufacture of the revolutionary Airlander.
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