Jet zero takes off! Giant helium-filled airship moves toward electric propulsion

Airlander 10 will offer zero-emission flights using hydrogen fuel cells

A hybrid airship, filled with helium has secured a funding injection of £1 million to develop electric propulsion.

The funding from the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme of BEIS and Innovate UK, aims to support the project which is thought to accelerate the UK’s journey to zero-emission transport.

Airlander 10, which claims to be the ”world’s first full-scale hybrid aircraft’, uses aerostatic and aerodynamic lift technology, can carry up to 90 passengers, or ten tonnes of cargo and even has a dining room!

The E-HAV1 project, which was launched in April 2019 by the supplier Collins Aerospace and the University of Nottingham, will deliver a full-size prototype 500kW electric propulsor for ground testing.

This technology will replace Airlander’s fuel-burning engines as the first step to an all-electric Airlander by 2030, using hydrogen fuel cell only.

Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles

With four fuel-burning engines, Airlander 10 currently produces 75% fewer emissions than other jets of similar standards – replacing the two front engines with electric motors will further reduce emissions.

The hybrid-electric Airlander 10 is expected to produce 90% fewer emissions from 2025.

Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles

Hybrid Air Vehicles CEO Tom Grundy said: “The need to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment has never been clearer.

“E-HAV1 is central to our vision of making zero-emissions aviation at scale possible, quickly. We’re delighted to continue with that important work with this additional support to the programme from Innovate UK.”

Business Minister Lord Henley said: “This is a vital step in aerospace manufacturing to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of hybrid-electric technology, using the best talent, industry and innovation to transform the way people, goods and services move across the UK.”

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