World’s longest aircraft is expected to be re-invented in a move towards “zero-carbon aviation”
Bedford-based firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has been awarded over GBP1 million (US$1.29 million) by the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme to reconvert its Airlander 10 into an all-electric vehicle.
The original test date for the helium airship was set for January 2019, however it was pushed back as the firm looked to re-create the model whilst scrapping the use of fuel and replace it with greener energy.
Nicknamed E-HAV1, the project to re-create the 302-foot combination of airplane and airship, which involves creating a full-sized 500-kW engine, is expected to take several years.
Aviation consultant Tony Dixon told BBC News that he is not convinced the funding will be enough for the project, which will use the combined expertise of HAV, Collins Aerospace and the University of Nottingham to replace the engine with electric power.
Once completed, the firm hopes the craft will “support a broad range of activities from passenger travel to fisheries protection.”
Of the six test flights completed by the Airlander 10, two ended badly, firstly as the vessel hit the ground on its second ever outing, and managed to hurt someone when it broke away and deflated on a separate occasion.
The firm is working on the new design for the electric aircraft and production is expected to start soon in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of flying and “move us closer to our goal of zero-carbon aviation,” says HAV CEO Stephen McGlennan.