Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is to launch a flight test campaign for its Airlander 10 hybrid airship around May 2015, following a delay in raising funds to support the effort.
The company was originally due to fly the aircraft from its base in Bedfordshire in December this year, but encountered a delay in raising the required £5 million ($8.4 million). The equity round is due to be finalised on 15 August.
Once the first flight test has been conducted, the aircraft will carry out some 200 flight hours over 1-2 months to prove its capabilities, after which customer demonstrations are planned to take place.
The company admits the pressure to raise equity has been “very eye-opening”, after having to push back closing the equity round from its originally slated date in March this year.
HAV says it is two years away from the first type certification for the Airlander 10. The aircraft currently in its hangar will remain as a demonstrator, but the second aircraft will be commercially viable.
The airship was originally developed for the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme, which was cancelled in 2013.
Northrop Grumman acted as prime contractor on the development – primarily to integrate mission equipment – but the air vehicle was developed by HAV. The company bought back the vehicle from the army in October 2013 for $301,000. One flight test was conducted under the LEMV effort before the project was axed.
HAV claims the army still shows interest in the development, and is being informed on progress made.
One consequence of converting a military-developed aircraft into a system that could be commercially developed was that the project fell under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations restrictions.
These have now been lifted, HAV says, so developments that arise from the Airlander 10 can now be fed into the Airlander 50 – a larger variant of the current model planned for development.
Previously, the two projects were made distinct so the Airlander 50 was not hindered by the restrictions applied to the 10.
HAV says Airlander 50 will be a heavy-lift hybrid airship, and is on track to be rolled out in 2018-2019.