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Sat, Mar 02, 2024

The Blimps Are Back In Town

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd Begins Type Certification in UK

Twin-hulled airships made by UK concern Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd have entered the type certification process over in Britain, paving the way for passenger and cargo service in the near future.

The firm is certifying the Airlander 10, the "world’s most efficient large aircraft" with their local regulator, the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Once type certified, it will likely see reciprocity with the FAA stateside, though the firm doesn't exactly come out and promise so. They state that "work is carried out concurrently with the EASA and FAA to enable global deliveries", so things will work out as they need once it's time for the Airlander series to start making some money.

The Airlander 10 will capitalize on the worldwide demand for low-emissions travel and logistics, making use of the natural efficiency of airship designs. As they become available, improved, more 'green' powerplants will be installed in Airlander models, with the first of them sketched out as all-electric motors by 2030. Should a workable hydrogen fuel cell system make its way to market, that would undoubtedly make an appearance too, though no concrete plans exist today. Airlander designers expect to see a 100-passenger model to make a splash on the market after type certification, with a 10-tonne cargo variant soon after.

Hybrid Air Vehicles boasts a surprisingly deep order book at the moment, with more than £1 billion in reservations for the Airlander 10. THeir South Yorkshire factory is slated to make up to 24 aircraft per year. Once certified they plan to hit the ground running, kicking things off with 20 aircraft sent out to regional passenger services. Air Nostrum Group has been promised as the launch carrier, with Grand Espaces signing up as the first high-profile tour operator.

“Airlander makes new, sustainable aviation services possible at scale – it’s a large aircraft designed to deliver services from large global fleets. Alongside our production programme, applying for Type Certification is a key milestone in our journey towards this goal. 

Mike Durham, CTO of Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd, said that the firm already has a relationship with the UK's CAA. Durham works as Head of the Design Office, so he's seen how deeply they've integrated the regulator's guidance throughout their development process. "As a Design Approved Organisation," he said, the company has "implemented processes to achieve the safety-first standards that today’s aviation industry demands. We’ve also worked with regulators to establish a certification basis, which includes the safety criteria this type of aircraft needs to meet. Formally beginning the Type Certification process is a proud moment for myself and the entire Design Office.”



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