Airlander Update and Review of the Year

Hybrid Air Vehicles is pleased to announce the structural damage sustained by Airlander’s heavy landing this summer has now been repaired, and over the Christmas period the new cockpit will be painted prior to the windscreens being fitted. The early part of 2017 will consist of a series of rigorous tests before Airlander continues its Flight Test Programme.

2016 was a momentous year, with Airlander’s First Flight breaking new ground in aviation history. Airlander claimed the title of the world’s largest flying aircraft. The two flights represented the only hybrid flight in 2016 and Airlander is the only full-sized aircraft ever to fly in this entirely new way, merging wing-shape lift with buoyant lift.
2016 in Numbers:
  • 128 people have worked on Airlander this year
  • 100 million online views of Airlander related articles
  • Twice #1 story on the BBC website
  • 600,000 views of our first flight video on our YouTube channel
  • 26,000 UK students engaged with Airlander through direct or partner STEM activities.

Unveiling & Naming - The Airlander was finally completed and unveiled to an excited ensemble of global press within the hangar. Following this, in April, HRH The Duke of Kent visited and officially named the Airlander as ‘Martha Gwyn’ in tribute to Chairman Philip Gwyn’s wife.

Crowdfunding & Regulatory Flight Approval - We successfully raised over £1 million funding on Crowdcube in April after raising £500,000 in just half a day! This helped fund us through to First Flight. We were also cleared for Take-off having been issued with the 2 key documents from EASA and CAA which were needed for First Flight.

“This clearly demonstrates the regulators' confidence in Airlander,” confirmed the Airlander’s Airworthiness and Certification Manager, Carl Thomas.

Hangar Exit & Final Tests - By August we had completed our robust indoor tests and in the early hours of August 6 the Airlander glided majestically from the hangar and was guided to her new outdoor base on the Airfield. A final series of tests were then carried out in the following days.

First Flight – After building global attention the day finally came for First Flight and just before 8pm on 17th August, 2016, Airlander took to the sky for the first time in front of assembled crowds and media – we literally stopped traffic!
“It was a beautiful day to be out on the field and it was a real pleasure to see the "Martha Gwyn" take off. It was a short flight, but a good one, and we captured headlines round the world.” –Stephen McGlennan, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles
Second Flight & Hard Landing – On a sunny day on 24th August the Airlander undertook a second successful flight that lasted for over an hour and a half. As she came in to land a technical issue led to a heavy landing that resulted in a damaged cockpit but without injury. Following this the Airlander was brought into the hangar where she has been undergoing repairs, which are nearing completion.

Awards - We have won and been shortlisted for a number of Awards, including the EEF’s "Future Manufacturing Award for 2016", "Cleantech Innovate" and were delighted to be asked to showcase at the finals of WIRED magazine’s “Moonshot” awards.

STEM - Over 26,000 UK students have been engaged with Airlander through direct, or partner STEM activities. Our School’s programme has presented at over 20 schools and has run programmes lasting a full term. We once again supported the School’s Aerospace Challenge and invited the 40 finalists to the Hangar during the summer camp at Cranfield University.

VIP Visits - We have hosted visits to senior military personnel from over a dozen countries and have been visited by two Ministers, half a dozen MPs and a similar number of Peers. We have presented regularly to Aerosocieties, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Engineering & Technology, Rotary Clubs and other organisations. For the first time, we exhibited at the Farnborough Airshow and have also presented at the Royal United Services Institute Air Power conference, the EU Horizon 2020 conference in Brussels and at the UK Government’s Department for International Development in Whitehall.

Potential Customers - Although we tend to mainly host visitors in Cardington, we have also been to meet potential customers and investors in the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar the UAE and throughout Europe.

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. 2.5 million in funding from the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.

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 for more details about investment opportunities.

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For general media enquiries, contact Chris Daniels, Head of Partnerships and Communications at 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?

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.
RT @CorpsSTEM: I bet was hugely interesting! An amazing aircraft and design. I wonder what the future holds for this form of travel... agai…
RT @1066HitchinSqn: Tonight the Squadron welcomed Robin Evans to talk to us about #Airlander and introduce us to @AirVehicles #whatwedo @Co…
RT @BBC3CR: Airlander 10 to fly 'higher, faster and further' from Cardington base