Airlander moves towards production and luxury expeditions

Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Airlander airship has suffered setbacks but the company is pushing ahead. We spoke to Tom Grundy about where the programme is now and its new interior design.

During a test flight in August 2016, the Airlander aircraft took a nosedive, causing damage to the cockpit. In November, it then deflated after it came loose from its mooring.

Grundy said: “That test programme has been very key for us. This is an aircraft [with] all-new technology and it's an all-new configuration. So, when people have seen that test programme, they've seen a prototype aircraft flying in some ways its very first flight test and expanding its envelope and expanding our knowledge of it.

“So, yes there have been some incidents that people have seen along the way. But its function was for us to learn what we needed to learn to take the aircraft into production, to access the $45 billion market that's there over the next 20 years.”

He said a team is now working on “taking that production aircraft forward.”

“So when we see the aircraft flying at Farnborough, it will be the type certified production variant that'll be in the skies here. [We’re] not quite ready to announce exactly when yet – that's to come but, that's the route that we're on," he commented.

Styling it out

At Farnborough Airshow last week, Hybrid Air Vehicles revealed an artist’s impression of the 46-metre long passenger cabin.



Grundy said: “The idea behind that is to be able to take typically around 16 to 20 people in luxury and comfort. I'm talking double bedrooms. I'm talking being able to walk around, move around, eat at the bar, have a drink whilst looking from horizon to horizon, including down through the floor at the world going past.”

He added: “And to be able to do that and go to places that aircraft typically can't go to. So, we're talking about three-day adventures to perhaps the North Pole, perhaps the Amazon, or perhaps to watch a safari from a quiet, comfortable aircraft above.”

This is about “creating a flight that you won't want to end,” Grundy said.

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