Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the company behind a new airship powered by a combination of helium and electric propulsion, has announced that Iberian Airline Air Nostrum has placed a pre-order for ten of its ‘Airlander 10’ airships. Delivery of aircraft and subsequent operations launch is expected to begin in 2026.

Hybrid Air Vehicles has been developing its airships since 2007, with this purchase from Air Nostrum as its first major order deal. Air Nostrum is one of the largest regional airlines in Europe, with initial operations for the Airlander 10 set to take place across Spain.

Above: Airlander 10’s first test flight from Cardington airfield, just outside Bedford, on 17 August 2016

Although the Airlander 10 only has a top speed of about 80mph, it would cut emissions by about 90% as compared to traditional aircraft, while simultaneously offering much more scenic views than airplanes. According to a recent press release, HAV and Nostrum airlines have conducted rigorous studies and modeling of domestic Spanish routes, as well as their associated economics.

The Airlander 10 can also stay in the air for a maximum of 5 days, giving it even greater potential for air tourism. In addition, the Airlander 10 offers a massive amount of cargo space while requiring no runway at all, which could mean a very wide range of logistics applications.

Said Carlos Bertomeu, President of Air Nostrum, “We are exploring each and every possible way to reduce our carbon footprint. This is something that we have been doing for many years. 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. Agreements such as these are a very effective way to reach the de-carbonization targets contemplated in the Fit for 55 legislative initiative.”

Tom Grundy, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles, commented, “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. As countries like France, Denmark, Norway, Spain and the UK begin to put in place ambitious mandates for the decarbonisation of domestic and short haul flight, Hybrid Air Vehicles and Air Nostrum Group are demonstrating how we can get there – and get there soon.”

Production of the Airlander 10 will begin this year in South Yorkshire UK.

Why it’s important: While the Airlander 10 cannot travel at the speeds of smaller, 4-passenger eVTOLs and has a much larger size footprint, it has a massive 100-passenger capacity while still offering ultra-low emissions and minimal infrastructure requirements. For missions like air tourism, regional transportation, or transportation of a large amount of goods to regions with fragile or limited infrastructure, the Air Lander 10 could be an excellent option. In addition, with modifications for cargo-carrying, the Airlander would be the only hybrid-electric aircraft capable of carrying payloads up to 45 tons.

Posted by Benji