Are hybrid airships set to be the future of air travel?
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is a British company that leads the field in the development and manufacture of hybrid air vehicles. They built The Airlander which is a unique combination of an airplane, helicopter, and airship, it uses helium to provide buoyancy and four engines to generate thrust.
The Airlander project started in 2007 as a collaboration between HAV and the US Army, with the aim of developing an unmanned surveillance vehicle. Since then, the project has switched from surveillance to passengers and HAV developed the Airlander 10 prototype. The craft designed to be a low-carbon alternative to airplanes for commercial air travel made its maiden flight in 2016. The flight tests got off to a rocky start when in 2016 the Airlander crashed and in 2017 it broke free from its mooring, destroying the hull. Despite these issues, improvements were adopted, and development continued.