Today the gas-filled airship seems like a romanticized method of travel from a bygone era of flight. However there are several modern players in the market looking to resurrect lighter-than-air manned commercial travel and one such product has become the "Airlander 10", an air vehicle from Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) of the United Kingdom. Founded in 2007, HAV has set out to develop a new generation of hybrid airships and this work resulted in the "HAV-3" scaled-down demonstrator. The HAV-3 product was a 50-foot long, remote-controlled model recording its first-flight during September of 2008 over RAF Cardington.
This vehicle then set the groundwork for the military-minded "HAV-304" attempting to fulfill the United States Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program requirement. Three were originally planned, and backing came from American defense industry powerhouse Northrop Grumman, though in the end only one was ever realized. With the cancellation of the LEMV program in February of 2013, the airship was returned to England and reworked as a civilian market hauler - the Airlander 10.
The Airlander 10 was debuted in 2014 at Cardington and is marketed as a long-range, low-pollution-emitting vehicle capable of landing and taking off from anywhere. Internally the airship is filled with helium and its base design shape is said to account for about half of its lifting principles. The end result is a product that combines the best attributes of fixed-wing aircraft (speed), helicopters (vertical take-off and landing) and airships (low noise, low pollution).
The airship has no internal structure and composites are used in its construction for its robustness while maintaining weight-saving characteristics so important to aircraft of any type. The envelope holds a volume of 38,000 meters cubed and the aircraft showcases an overall length of 92 meters, a width of 43.5 meters and a height of 26 meters. It can cruise at 80 knots and loiter around 20 knots while reaching altitudes of 16,000 feet. It can sustain flight for up to five days. Landing is supported through pneumatic tube-like skids along the underside of the craft and these are retracted during flight to retain aerodynamic efficiency. Production versions are set to feature a two-seat cockpit with excellent all-around vision.
Standard drive power is from 4 x 4-liter V8 turbo-charged direct-injection diesel-fueled engines outputting at 325 horsepower each. A pair of these is found along the forward hull sides and the remaining pair are fitted at the extreme aft-end of the hull. The engines are also vectored-thrust capable, giving the operators some precision movement from the cockpit.
In its current civilian market form, the airship is being pushed for various roles - VIP luxury passenger transport, lower-cost freight hauling, aid distribution to remote areas of the world, security surveillance measures, general in-air advertising and the like. The airship is rated for a payload of up to 10 tonnes with underslung loads being capable (in the production-quality form). A proposed, oversized version of the Airlander 10 is the "Airlander 50" with a 50 tonne cargo capability.
August 2016 - The Airlander 10 vehicle completed its first flight. The flight took place about 35 miles north of London.
August 24, 2016 - The Airlander 10 vehicle crash-landed on its second test flight after its mooring line hit power lines. The heavy landing caused damage to the underslung cockpit cabin though no injuries were reported. The vehicle has since been returned to flying status (December 2016).
May 2017 - Following modifications after an August 2016 crash landing, the Airlander 10 returned to the skies on May 10th, 2017. The return-flight lasted 180 minutes.
July 2018 - A luxury-minded commercial market variant of the Airlander 10, measuring 150 feet long, was unveiled at Farnborough 2018. It was featured with complete sleeping spaces and room for up to nineteen passengers.
December 2018 - The Airlander 10 prototype has been retired from flying after undertaking six test-flights.
January 2019 - Following approval by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Hybrid Air Vehicles will begin construction of a production-quality prototype.
United Kingdom (possible); United States (possible)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
301.8 ft (92.00 m)
142.7 ft (43.50 m)
85.3 ft (26.00 m)
44,092 lb (20,000 kg)
66,139 lb (30,000 kg)
+22,046 lb (+10,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander 10 production variant)
None. up to 22,050lb (10,000kg) of cargo. Underslung cargo capability also mentioned.
Airlander 10 - Base Series Designation
HAV-304 - Designation for U.S. Army LEMV trials
HAV-3 - Original 50-foot long scaled-down remote-piloted demonstrator.
Airlander 50 - Proposed over-sized variant of the Airlander 10 featuring a 50-tonne hauling capability.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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