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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Technicians Inspect the Hull on Airlander – Maintaining the World’s Largest Aircraft
The first full inspection of Airlander’s hull was completed this week by HAV’s team of aerospace technicians as part of ongoing analysis during the Flight Test Progamme. This was the first annual yearly check of the hull surface as a part of its flight test programme.  Simple but spectacular access techniques are now proven and Airlander passed its inspection with flying colours.   Airlander is ready to demonstrate its airborne capability to its customers as its flight programme continues. Airlander is in a class of its own in the most useful capability of payload x endurance – which is vital to patrol, search, surveillance and communications roles. Technicians recently completed a full hull inspection of Airlander using simple, safe and spectacular rope access techniques developed to make maintaining our unique aircraft routine. As expected, no major problems were found and Airlander got the thumbs up to continue its flight test programme.  This was the first time this access process has been used outside on the hull following development inside our hangar. This technique is key to enabling Airlander to demonstrate its ability to be maintained outside, without need for a permanent hangar.     We now benefit from remarkably easy access to all the upper surfaces and systems of the Airlander, using the same ascender system as the technician team uses for routine engine maintenance and inspection. Airlander is 26m tall (around the same height as four stacked double decker buses) which means that great care and thought has been put into maintenance techniques. Safety ropes are permanently attached to the hull and our technicians undertook rigorous training to ensure the highest safety standards. Access is gained to the hull via power ascenders supplied by ActSafe, the world leaders in this kind of equipment. Safety is the priority for Airlander and we always ensure the highest standards are adhered to. “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. We were pleased to find no major issues, further proving Airlander’s resilience.” – Ivor Pope, Maintenance, Modification and Ground Operations Manager 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.  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 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 media@hybridairvehicles.net or call 01234 336400

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RT @ChocolateFilms: Airy shoot @AirVehicles for @UKAeroInstitute today #Airlander #openspace #Bedford https://t.co/bMfjXVDMIp
We wish the best for #AlevelResultsDay tomorrow! Here's some #Airlander-themed #STEM inspiration for the next step.… https://t.co/1i52FTtA5o
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