The ‘flying bum’ is set to takeoff

By Ellie Zolfagharifard, Mail Online

At 302ft (92 metres), the Airlander 10 is the world’s longest aircraft.

The part plane and part airship was first designed in 2010, but a series of budget cuts left it sitting in hanger in Bedfordshire.

Now, a £3.4 million ($5.25 million) grant from the UK government is set to get the giant ‘flying bum’ aircraft off ground next year.

While the aircraft was originally designed for surveillance and reconnaissance by the US Army, the UK government is hoping to use it to transport cargo cheaply, according to The Verge.

The ship, previously named HAV304, is capable of carrying around 20,000 pounds (nine tonnes) of cargo for up to five days at a time without landing. It is also 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than a helicopter to operate.

The giant aircraft is currently being held at Cardington, UK, which in the only hangar big enough to accommodate the 113ft (34m) wide and 85ft (26m) high beast.

The UK government's innovation agency has also enabled the company behind the ship, Hybrid Air Vehicles, to start a full engine test program, enabling it to double its staff in 2014.

Last year, Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden and a high-profile investor in the aircraft, compared the ship to Thunderbird 2 and described it as a 'game changer.'

'It will be able to cross the Atlantic and launch things right where they need to be,' he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

'It can reach about 100mph and stay airborne for about three-and-a-half weeks.'

While it looks like giant airship, it has a unique aerodynamic shape that means it can also create lift just like an aeroplane wing. The cambered shape provides up to 40 per cent of the vehicle’s lift.

This allowed engineers make the machine heavier than air, removing the need for crew to hang onto ropes to hold it down. A number of ballonets fore and aft in each of the hulls provide pressure control.

The aircraft is powered by four 350 hp, four litre V8 direct injection, turbocharged diesel engines. Two engines mounted forward on the hull and two on the stern of the hull for cruise operation.

The plan is that the Airlander 10 will eventually lead to the development of the Airlander 50, which would be able to transport 50 tonnes of freight.

The huge aircraft combines the best of aeroplane, airship and helicopter design. HAV believes there could be a world market for between 600 and 1,000 of these aircraft.

For the time being, the company plans to produce around 10 a year for the next four or five years. This is expected to lead to the creation of 1,800 jobs in the Bedfordshire area.

‘The growing aerospace sector has the potential to generate thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds to the UK economy in contracts,’ business secretary Vince Cable said today.

‘That is why so much effort is being put in by government and industry to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and build on our strong position as second in the world for aerospace.’

He added: ‘As part our long-term industrial strategy we are jointly funding £2 billion of research and development into the next generation of quieter, more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly planes.

‘That includes backing projects like HAV's innovative low-carbon aircraft which can keep us at the cutting edge of new technology. Here is a British company that has the potential to lead the world in its field.’
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HAV Awarded Design Organisation Approval
Hybrid Air Vehicles achieves significant milestone with the award of a Design Organisation Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has awarded Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd a Design Organisation Approval. This is an important milestone on our path to getting the production Airlander 10 in service with customers. It is also a major achievement: just eight other organisations hold an EASA Design Organisation Approval (DOA) for type certifying large aircraft. Being granted a DOA gives HAV the ability to undertake a full flight test programme towards the type certification of Airlander 10. While HAV has previously operated the prototype Airlander under both CAA and EASA permission, the DOA is a critical step towards type certification. Throughout the process, HAV and EASA built a good working relationship. "As an organisation, we have worked hard to make sure that we were thoroughly prepared for every step of the DOA process. As a result, we have succeeded in securing our DOA," comments Safety & Airworthiness Engineer Nikky Pittkin, who was a key part of driving the programme forward within HAV. "Now we are working with EASA specialists to establish the certification basis for our aircraft so that we can work towards type certification of Airlander 10." "Achieving our DOA was always an important milestone in our Airlander 10 production plan," adds Executive Director Nick Allman. "Working directly with EASA, we have made excellent progress on developing the appropriate regulations for an aircraft like Airlander. Having our DOA will support our preparation for a type certification programme as we move ahead with the production aircraft." HAV expects the type certified production Airlander 10 aircraft to be in service with customers from the early 2020s, with the order book currently open to both organisations and individual purchasers. About Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander hybrid aircraft. Airlander can take off and land from virtually any flat surface and offers a powerful combination of flexibility, persistence, payload capacity, and efficiency. Suitable for roles from surveillance and border patrol to search & rescue and expeditionary tourism, Airlander is an aircraft that encourages customers to Rethink the Skies and consider new approaches to solving some of the toughest challenges facing aerospace today. Please visit for more information. For media enquiries, please email

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