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Airlander 10 Takes Step Toward Electric Propulsion; Project E-HAV1

The 92-meter long, 43.5-meter wide Airlander 10 is considered the world's longest aircraft. (Picture Credit: AFP/Justin Tallis Source:AFP) Click to Enlarge.

A partnership of Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV); Collins Aerospace, a unit of United Technologies Corp; and the University of Nottingham (UoN) has won grant funding in excess of £1 million (US$1.29 million) from the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Program to develop electric propulsion technologies using Airlander 10 as the initial platform.

The project, named E-HAV1, will deliver a full-sized prototype 500 kW electric propulsor for ground testing and technologies ready for future productionisation.  These technologies will be directly applicable to a future Airlander 10, with the goal of replacing its fuel-burning forward engines as the first step towards an all-electric version of the aircraft.

Utilizing a combination of buoyant lift from helium, aerodynamic lift, and vectored thrust, Airlander 10 already operates with a significantly lower fuel burn than other aircraft of similar capability.  The integration of electric forward propulsors will increase this advantage.

Airlander 10’s ability to support a broad range of activities from passenger travel to fisheries protection makes it the ideal platform for pioneering electric propulsion in civil aircraft.

Project E-HAV1 will address key goals of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy: strengthening the UK’s aerospace capabilities, positioning the UK for developing future generations of civil aircraft, and advancing a new generation of efficient propulsion technologies.  Each of the three partners is a leader in their sector:  HAV in whole-aircraft design capability, Collins in electric power system development, and UoN in electric propulsion research and testing.

Reducing our carbon footprint is one of the biggest challenges facing aviation today.  While Airlander 10 is already helping customers Rethink the Skies with incredible efficiency, we have to find ways of further reducing the impact we have on our environment.  This project will move us closer to our goal of zero-carbon aviation.

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