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?

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Airlander Media Statement - 18 November 2017
Today there was an incident with the Airlander aircraft at Cardington airfield.  The aircraft was not flying at the time of the incident.  Our initial assessment is that the aircraft broke free from its mooring mast for reasons that will be investigated.  The aircraft has a safety system which operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, and is designed to rip open the hull and deflate the aircraft.  This is a safety feature to ensure our aircraft minimises any potential damage to its surroundings in these circumstances.  The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield.  The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.    A member of HAV staff sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital for assessment as a precaution.  She has since been discharged.  A separate member of staff also sustained minor injuries while dealing with the aftermath of the incident.    A number of local roads and a local footpath were temporarily closed off by Bedfordshire Police and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused local residents.    We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development. We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks.

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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.
Today there was an incident with the Airlander aircraft at Cardington airfield. You can read our latest statement… https://t.co/crGcl4vhYc
RT @just1nico: The amazing #Airlander back on the ground at Cardington after it's 6th test flight tonight. Wow! https://t.co/eZd5e8pJhJ
RT @BBC3CR: Airlander 10 completes next set of testing https://t.co/7cuxxFyuX0 @AirVehicles https://t.co/owID20pg4R