Eco-airship manufacturing contract to launch 1,800 jobs in South Yorkshire
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Hybrid Air Vehicles has signed a deal to deliver 10 of its 100-passenger Airlander helium-filled airships to a Spanish airline, the Guardian reports.
The aircraft have less than a tenth of the CO2 footprint of a passenger jet planes, the company says. And although it looks like a blimp it is also part plane, relying on engines and aerodynamics for lift.
Tom Grundy, chief executive of HAV, said: “Airlander is designed to deliver a better future for sustainable aviation services, enable new transport networks and provide rapid growth options for our customers. Our partnership with Air Nostrum Group, as the launch airline for Airlander 10, leads the way towards that future.”
At the time, Hybrid Air Vehicles said it was working with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of Sheffield University, and Doncaster Council.
The firm has received £140m funding, including £11m from grants and government funding including from the Aerospace Technology Institute.
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The aircraft are set to fly for Spanish carrier Air Nostrum in 2026.
Carlos Bertomeu, Air Nostrum’s president, said: “The Airlander 10 will drastically reduce emissions and for that reason we have made this agreement with HAV. Sustainability, which is good news for everyone, is already a non-negotiable fact in the daily operations of commercial aviation.”
HAV has previously attracted funding Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.
The craft was originally designed as a surveillance vehicle for intelligence missions in Afghanistan. HAV claims independent estimates put the value of the airship market at $50bn (£41bn) over the next 20 years. It aims to sell 265 of its Airlander craft over that period.
The £25m Airlander 10 prototype undertook six test flights, some of which ended badly. It crashed in 2016 on its second test flight, after a successful 30-minute maiden trip. HAV tweeted at the time: “Airlander sustained damage on landing during today’s flight. No damage was sustained mid-air or as a result of a telegraph pole as reported.”
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Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it showed that the UK was at the forefront of “revolutionary” greener aviation technology.
He added: “Hybrid aircraft could play an important role as we transition to cleaner forms of aviation, and it is wonderful to see the UK right at the forefront of the technology’s development.
“This agreement enhances the possibility of the revolutionary, British-made and designed, Airlander 10 aircraft flying across Spanish skies. It is more proof of how the UK’s businesses are embracing new technology to drive growth and support high skilled UK jobs.”
In March Hybrid Air Vehicles said: “As the Airlander 10 programme nears launch, we need to identify a suitable location for the facilities that will enable us to deliver a minimum of 12 Type Certified aircraft to the market per year.
"South Yorkshire presents an ideal combination of strategic vision, educational and research institutions, potential partners and current partners: 2Excel Aviation and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, and physical location.”