What could be better than enjoying pristine water views aboard a luxurious cruise ship? How about floating leisurely across the skies inside a palatial airship that promises a birds-eye view of our gorgeous planet? If British aerospace firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has its way, you will soon not only be floating amid the clouds but also heading to remote, unexplored destinations.
Measuring an astounding 302 feet long – 60 feet longer than the world’s largest passenger plane, the A380 – the hybrid vehicle combines the features of an aircraft and an airship. The eco-friendly vehicle’s unique shape and helium-filled hull enable it to float in the skies for up to two weeks at a time when unmanned, and five days with a crew on board. Its four propeller diesel engines provide 24 percent thrust up or down to help with landing, take-off, or when the plane is hovering. While similar to the Zeppelin, which first took flight in 1900 – three years before the Wright brothers conducted their historic flight – it is not as dangerous. That’s because the Zeppelin was kept afloat by hydrogen, which explodes if exposed to even relatively low levels of oxygen. Helium, which boasts 92% of the lifting power of hydrogen, does not catch fire.
HAV had initially touted the Airlander 10 as an economical way to transport cargo because of its large capacity, or for military surveillance and network connectivity. While the company is still working on developing it for practical use cases, on July 18, 2018 at the Farnboroughz International Airshow in Hampshire, UK, the company unveiled plans of a more fun, tourist-focused Airlander 10.
Devised in partnership with Design Q, the plush airship will feature large bedrooms with attached bathrooms that resemble those of a five-star hotel and a spacious bar where guests will be able to enjoy fine dining and drinks. The highlight – at least for those who don’t suffer from acrophobia – will be the Infinity Lounge, which will have both a glass ceiling and floor, promising guests breathtaking, 360-degree views. The airship’s “slow” speed of 91mph will allow passengers to thoroughly immerse themselves in the experience.
HAV, which expects to accommodate up to 19 guests for each three-day trip, has commissioned luxury travel agency Henry Cookson Adventure to plan the first expeditionary journey. Though the destination or price have not been revealed, given that Airlander 10 can land and take off from any flat surface, it is guaranteed to be exotic . . . and expensive!
However, before HAV can start taking reservations for these once-in-a-lifetime excursions, the company has to demonstrate the airship can fly incident-free for 200 hours. While the Airlander 10 has had its share of hiccups with an unsuccessful first flight in 2016 and a collapse in November 2017, its past six trips have been incident-free. So, it is just a matter of time before the massive airships will be carrying tourists to exciting locations around the world.
Resources: Cntraveler.com,Interestingengineering.com, designboom.com