Airlander gets production approval in USA

Low Emissions Today
© Hybrid Air Vehicles

The hybrid hyper-efficient aircraft can be configured for "luxury expeditionary tourism."

The Airlander combines "the best characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft." We have previously covered its launches and its slow-motion crash landing with admiration, because it is an amazing craft that could be the future of low-carbon travel, being pushed through the skies by four little Diesel engines in the present configuration, but which can be replaced with electric motors.

Airlander flying© Hybrid Air Vehicles
It can stay up in the air for five days, can cruise at 80 knots, and can carry ten tonnes. And now it has received Production Organization Approval from the American Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which brings it a step closer to reality. According to the release:

A Production Organisation Approval (POA) considers the manufacture and assembly aspects of aircraft production. This includes supply chain management, processes relating to manufacture and assembly, and the production facility itself. Both the Design Organisation Approval (DOA), which covers design activities and flight test, and the POA, covering manufacture and assembly, are required to move forward into a type certification programme with the production Airlander 10.

airlander interior© Hybrid Air Vehicles

The Airlander can carry a cabin that's about 150 feet long and 10'-6" wide, and new renderings by design consultancy DesignQ show that it could be quite comfortable, if you can get over the see-through floors. This could introduce a new era of slow travel:

long view of interior© Hybrid Air Vehicles

Stephen McGlennan, CEO of HAV, comments that Airlander 10 is changing the way we think about air travel. “Airlander challenges people to rethink the skies – that’s the driving force behind everything we do,” he says. “Air travel has become very much about getting from A to B as quickly as possible. What we’re offering is a way of making the journey a joy.”

long view of interior© hybrid Air Vehicles

Airlander 10 can take off and land from virtually any flat surface, eliminating the need for traditional infrastructure like ports or airports. This opens up opportunities for luxury expeditions to places existing transport can’t get to and offers the ultimate in transformative, experiential travel.

beanbag chairs© Hybrid Air Vehicles

With all due respect to the designers, I am not convinced about the beanbag chairs. I also think that an opportunity was missed to do some retro lightweight tubular designs, sort of a flying Farnsworth House.

stateroom© Hybrid Air Vehicles

It is all very luxe, but that is probably inevitable given that weight is such a big deal on lighter-than-air craft; you can't pack people in like sardines. "The Altitude Bar will offer drinks with the ultimate view, while 18 guests can enjoy fine dining in the skies."

But a five day ride in an Airlander will probably cost a lot less than the $250,000 it costs for 90-minute ride on a Virgin Galactic rocket plane, and even when an Airlander crashes, there is not much of a bump.

Given the choice, I would take the Airlander. But it really needs an aluminum piano like the Hindenberg had.

Airlander gets production approval in USA
The hybrid hyper-efficient aircraft can be configured for "luxury expeditionary tourism" that is virtually carbon-free.

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