World’s longest hybrid aircraft, Airlander, was unveiled in Britain’s biggest aircraft hangar in Cardington, central England on 28 February 2014. The helium-filled hybrid aircraft, could be used for suveillance and carrying aid to disaster-hit zones. It has been developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles, (HAV), a Cranfield-based company in Britain.
Airlander is a 300-feet (91 metres) long aircraft. “Our first passenger flight is scheduled to be in 2016,” the HAV stated in its website on 28 February 2014.
Airlander was originally developed for the US military in 2009, but it was scrapped due to budget constraints in 2013. HAV had won the US military contract and delivered the hybrid aircraft to the US military, which had bought this aircraft to use as a surveillance machine. And the contract was stayed only till 2013.
HAV brought back the aircraft from the US military to UK for $301,000. The environment-friendly and helium-filled Airlander could fly for 21 days at a time and just a two-member crew is enough. Airlander does not need a runway and could carry 50 tonnes, 50 times more than a helicopter’s capacity.
According to the company, Airlander could be used for delivering humanitarian aid to disaster zones where there won’t be runways or airports. “Not only can Airlander stay in the air for days, it offers incredible fuel efficiency, minimal noise pollution,” the company boasts. The hybrid aircraft offers a revolutionary alternative for distribution of aid, heavy cargo lift, luxury travel, all with minimal impact on the environment, HAV said.
As HAV unveiled the longest aircraft, the British government awarded £2.5 million grant to the company to develop the technology and engineering for the project. HAV is planning for a bigger size aircraft, which could carry 50 metric tonnes. The British government stated that the innovative craft, Airlander, has the caliber to lead the world in its field.