The British company Hybrid Air Vehicles introduced the production version of the promising Airlander 10 aircraft. In the near future, the company plans to begin certification of a hybrid aircraft, and flight tests will start in early 2020.
The development of Airlander 10 has been going on since the mid-2000s. The device looks like an airship, but it belongs to the class of aircraft heavier than air with the characteristics of both an airplane and an aerostat. Airlander 10 has gas volumes filled with helium. They create up to 40% of the lifting force necessary to take off and maintain the device in the air. The remainder is created by four diesel engines with propellers, two of which are used only during take-off and landing.
The updated version of the Airlander 10 replaces the one used in the tests until November 2017; that after a series of incidents was disappeared. It is the largest aircraft in the world: its structure reaches 98 meters long, about 25 meters more than the A380 and 14 more than the An-225, currently the largest aircraft in the air.
The device is equipped with 46 meters long and six meters wide cabin, slightly wider than the previous model. The cabin of the Airlander 10 can carry 18 passengers, staying in four suites equipped with high-class details, such as leather-covered armchairs, along with a bar and a restaurant.
The airship’s nose is more rounded, and the fuel tank is moved up into the hull. It is reported that the device has a slightly redesigned case, which has improved its aerodynamic properties. According to the developers, Airlander 10 consumes 67-75% less fuel and, as a result, emits significantly less CO2 than traditional aircraft with similar characteristics. Other details about the production version are not announced – probably, the remaining parameters of the aircraft have not changed.
Currently, Hybrid Air Vehicles, in collaboration with the firm Collins Aerospace, is working on the version of the aircraft equipped exclusively with electric motors – it was called E-HAV1.
Hybrid Air Vehicles announced that the company has already received orders from travel companies for the supply of more than ten Airlander 10. The developers believe that the company will be able to transfer the first hybrid aircraft to customers in 2024.