The Prototype of the world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10, was retired from the service at the beginning of this year. The test version flew just six times, most were successful but two of them was ended badly. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), which built the enormous blimp-shaped vehicle says it wants to reduce its carbon footprint and create “zero-carbon aviation”.
Now, the company has announced it’s planning to convert it into an all-electric vehicle. A partnership of HAV, Collins Aerospace, and the University of Nottingham (UoN), has been awarded more than £1 million ($1.3 million) for this project.
The funding was granted from the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme for the project named E-HAV1. However, that funding may not be enough to replace the blimp’s engines with electric propulsion, according to the aviation consultant, Tony Dixon.
As per the project’s aim to create a full-sized prototype 500kW electric propulsor suitable for a future Airlander 10, allowing the aircraft’s builders to replace its diesel-burning forward engines as the first step towards an all-electric version of the machine.
It will take about a year to complete and when ready, the craft will “support a broad range of activities from passenger travel to fisheries protection,” says HAV.
“Reducing our carbon footprint is one of the biggest challenges facing aviation today,” HAV chief Stephen McGlennan said in a release. “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.”
The new design for the electric aircraft is underway now, and production will commence shortly. The Aircraft also described as part-plane and part-airship, could one day be used for a broad range of activities that include pleasure trips, passenger travel, surveillance work, cargo transportation, and aid delivery.
“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.”