Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lighter Than Air Craft Will Pursue Passenger not Freight Traffic   

Airlander 10 Aims for Production Despite Early Setbacks

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Shipping News Feature UK – Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), creators of the Airlander 10, a part-blimp, part-plane hybrid aircraft, have been awarded Production Organisation Approval (POA) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the company looks to set to focus on flying passengers, not freight, following the formal retirement of the prototype Airlander 10 after successful testing. The 92 metre craft stands 26 metres high with a lifting capacity of 10 tonnes and derives from the US Army's original prototype HAV304 airship.

A POA considers the manufacture and assembly aspects of aircraft production, including supply chain management, processes relating to manufacture and assembly, and the production facility itself. This, along with the Design Organisation Approval (DOA), which was awarded to HAV in October 2018 by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) covering the design activities and flight test, are both required to move forward into a type certification programme with the production Airlander 10. David Lindley, HAV’s Head of Aviation Safety & Quality Assurance, commented:

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

It has not been all plain sailing for the ‘largest’ aircraft, when in November 2017 after its sixth successful flight, the Airlander 10 broke free from its moorings, triggered its safety systems and ripped open its hull to deflate causing it to crash into a field. This being the second incident for the aircraft after the airship ran in to a telegraph pole the year before. Executive Director at HAV, Nick Allman, said:

"Successfully being awarded our POA in the same year as our DOA is fantastic. 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."

HAV has hopes that its full commercial model will go into service from early 2020. The current model derives directly from the cancelled Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme in which the US Army aimed to deploy to Afghanistan in 2013, a decision reversed when the craft encountered ‘technical and performance challenges’. The original model was purchased by HAV from which the latest iteration has been developed.

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