(Image source: Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited)

Airlander 10 hybrid airship may enter production as soon as 2019

With a recently won production organization approval (POA) from the Civilian Aviation Authority (CAV), Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited (HAV) is one step closer to type certification of the Airlander 10 hybrid airship.

The POA certifies all aspects of Airlander 10 production, including supply chain management, HAV’s production facility, and manufacturing and assembly of the airship components – including 119 meter-long, triple-layered laminated hull fabric.


The composite hull fabric includes layers of Vectran, a woven liquid-crystal polymer (LCP) fiber; woven aramid fiber; Tedlar, a polyvinyl fluoride film (PVF); and Mylar polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film combined with polyurethane film to create a gas barrier. Once inflated with helium, the hull fabric supports the Airlander 10’s four thrust vectoring engines, fins, and flight deck. (Image source: Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited)

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The hull’s aerodynamic shape, an elliptical cross section allied to a cambered longitudinal shape, provides up to 40 percent of the Airlander 10’s total lift. The internal diaphragms required to support this shape allow for a limited amount of compartmentalization further enhancing the fail-safe nature of the vehicle. Multiple ballonets located fore and aft in each of the hulls provide pressure control. (Image source: Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited) 

The POA was awarded three months after HAV secured a design organization approval (DOA) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which covers design activities and flight testing. Before then, Hybrid Air Vehicles had been operating the Airlander 10 under a prototype certificate.

The company will now undertake a full flight test program and work toward type certification of the production Airlander 10.

"The POA approval is a significant milestone for HAV. It is the culmination of months of hard work and focused effort," comments David Lindley, HAV’s head of aviation safety and quality assurance. "It demonstrates that the safety, quality assurance, and supply chain management processes are in place, along with the production facility."

"Successfully being awarded our POA in the same year as our DOA is fantastic," adds Executive Director Nick Allman. "The POA is the regulator’s stamp of approval for us to move ahead with the productionisation of Airlander 10 on the path to type certification. This puts us in a great position going into 2019."

Airlander 10 – the world's largest aircraft by mass – uses innovative technology to combine the best characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft. It can stay airborne for up to five days at a time.

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The aircraft, originally designated HAV 304, was initially designed for the United States Army Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program. In its current civilian iteration, it is capable of a wide range of communication, cargo carrying, and survey roles in both the military and commercial sectors all with a significantly lower carbon footprint than other forms of air transport.

However, HAV is currently marketing the Airlander 10 as a luxury airliner of sorts, with an interior designed for passenger comfort and panoramic views.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
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