Airlander Takes Step Toward Electric Propulsion

 
Zero-carbon aviation is one step closer with the award of a UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme grant to develop electric propulsion for Airlander 10.
 
A partnership of Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), Collins Aerospace, and the University of Nottingham (UoN) has won grant funding in excess of £1m from the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme to develop electric propulsion technologies using Airlander 10 as the initial platform. The project, named E-HAV1, will deliver a full-sized prototype 500kW electric propulsor for ground testing and technologies ready for future productionisation. These technologies will be directly applicable to a future Airlander 10, with the goal of replacing its fuel-burning forward engines as the first step towards an all-electric version of the aircraft.
 
Utilising a combination of buoyant lift from helium, aerodynamic lift, and vectored thrust, Airlander 10 already operates with a significantly lower fuel burn than other aircraft of similar capability. The integration of electric forward propulsors will increase this advantage. Airlander 10’s ability to support a broad range of activities from passenger travel to fisheries protection makes it the ideal platform for pioneering electric propulsion in civil aircraft.
 
Project E-HAV1 will address key goals of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy: strengthening the UK’s aerospace capabilities, positioning the UK for developing future generations of civil aircraft, and advancing a new generation of efficient propulsion technologies. Each of the three partners is a leader in their sector: HAV in whole-aircraft design capability, Collins in electric power system development, and UoN in electric propulsion research and testing.
 
This collaboration demonstrates the commitment all three organisations have to the future of sustainable aviation. “Reducing our carbon footprint is one of the biggest challenges facing aviation today,” says HAV’s CEO Stephen McGlennan. “While Airlander 10 is already helping customers Rethink the Skies with incredible efficiency, we have to find ways of further reducing the impact we have on our environment. This project will move us closer to our goal of zero-carbon aviation.”
 
“As the innovation leader in electric power systems for the aerospace and defense industry, Collins Aerospace is proud to join with our partners in advancing this critical initiative,” said Marc Holme, Motor Drive Systems Engineering Director at Collins Aerospace. “Together, we’re developing innovative technologies that will pave the way for the hybrid-electric and all-electric aircraft of the future.”
 
Prof Pat Wheeler, Head of the University of Nottingham’s Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, commented, “we are really looking forward to the exciting challenges of applying our technological knowledge of electrical machines, power electronics and power systems to the Airlander propulsion application.  This project will also benefit from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF) investment in our new Centre for Power Electronics and Electrical Machines, which will open early in 2020”.
 
Business Minister Lord Henley said: “The UK has world-leading capabilities in aerospace manufacturing. The testing of this new electric engine, is our modern Industrial Strategy in action. This is a vital step in aerospace manufacturing to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of hybrid-electric technology, using the best talent, industry and innovation to transform the way people, goods and services move across the UK.”
 
The E-HAV1 project is supported by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Programme, a joint Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The programme is delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK; addressing large-scale technology and capability challenges, principally over a rolling 5 to 15-year timeframe.

 
About Collins Aerospace
Collins Aerospace, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry. Created in 2018 by bringing together UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins, Collins Aerospace has the capabilities, comprehensive portfolio and expertise to solve customers’ toughest challenges and to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global market. For more information, visit CollinsAerospace.com.
 
About the University of Nottingham’s Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group
The Power Electronics, Machines and Control (PEMC) Research Group at the University of Nottingham is one of the largest and most recognised groups in its field worldwide. The PEMC Research Group undertakes research in Power Electronics and Electrical Machines/Drives that are fundamental to our technological advancement. These technologies underpin the electrification of transport and all renewable energy strategies and are vital for a sustainable future. For more information, please see www.nottingham.ac.uk\pemc.
 
About the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)
The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) is at the heart of UK aerospace research and technology (R&T). Working collaboratively with Government, industry and the wider UK aerospace eco-system, the ATI sets the UK’s aerospace technology strategy (Raising Ambition) to reflect the sector’s vision and ambition.
 
The ATI is responsible for developing the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, supported by a network of advisory groups, and stimulating industry-led R&T projects that align with this strategy and maximise the potential to deliver UK economic benefit. The ATI provides strategic oversight of the R&T pipeline and portfolio, co-chairing the Strategic Review Committee with BEIS and advising on project investment.
 
As well as setting the UK’s technology strategy, the Institute identifies global opportunities for UK organisations through its international engagement programme, and helps to connect the UK to the global sector
 
About the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
The budget holder, BEIS, is accountable for the final decision regarding projects to progress and fund with Government resources, as well as performing Value for Money (VfM) assessment on project proposals when required.
 
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. We drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.
 
UK Research and Innovation is the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UKRI brings together the 7 Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.
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HAV Reserves Production Slots
Today, Hybrid Air Vehicles announces plans to hold three of the first year’s Airlander 10 production slots for commercial customers. The company has also unveiled a cabin demonstrator to support customer discussions in this sector.   This decision comes as demand for Airlander 10 in the commercial market has been growing rapidly, with interest coming from major cruise lines, hotel groups, and tour operators. “We recognise that there is a lot of interest in purchase or lease of Airlander aircraft in the commercial market,” comments Executive Director Tom Grundy. “Our confidential conversations with customers in other sectors are progressing well and these customers could easily absorb our early production capacity. We have taken the decision to preserve three production slots to ensure that the first commercial operators of Airlander have an early opportunity to satisfy the significant public appetite for unique luxury travel experiences.”   The increased interest in the passenger variant of Airlander 10 has followed from the launch of the concept cabin interior at Farnborough International Airshow last year. HAV has since brought a new Commercial Business Development Director, George Land, on board to address this demand and bring the first commercial Airlander 10s into the market.   “The desire for Airlander 10 in a variety of commercial tourism and hospitality markets is now clear,” notes Land. “With a limited number of aircraft available as production capacity ramps up in the first years, holding three slots ensures that the first commercial operators to order aircraft will have an opportunity to take delivery of Airlander 10 in the early 2020s.”   HAV is also supporting the development of facilities to offer leasing options and operational support for Airlander 10. These facilities open up additional ways for the commercial market to access the aircraft. “We’ve seen the growing trend toward experiential travel,” Land adds. “Airlander 10 is the perfect platform for companies to provide their customers something unique and meet their business goals.”   HAV has also today unveiled a full-scale cabin demonstrator to provide prospective aircraft purchasers or lessors the opportunity to experience the available space and interior quality offered by Airlander 10.

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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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We're thrilled to be working with @CollinsAero and @UoNEngineering to develop electric propulsion for #Airlander10!… https://t.co/wS8wrcfxt4