Hybrid Air Vehicles is making its Paris debut but the first air show appearance of its radical Airlander hybrid airship is set to be at Farnborough next year, with the start-up keen to make the world's largest aircraft one of the stars of that show.
HAV, which is part of the UK pavilion, is poised for the fifth flight of the 92m (300ft)-long Airlander in the next few days – the third since it was repaired after suffering a nose-down landing in August last year – with 22 June the "first window" for a flight in the stiller evening air, according to head of partnerships and communication Chris Daniels.
The aircraft undertook a 3h 23min flight last week after its 3h return to flight in May.
Daniels says HAV will soon be ready to start adding surveillance equipment and other payloads on behalf of clients to the aircraft's cabin. A large montage on its stand shows the 10,000kg (22,050lb)-payload Airlander over Glastonbury. Although Daniels says a mission over the UK's iconic rock festival this year will not happen, he maintains that one of the services HAV could offer would be hosting a wi-fi antenna and crowd-monitoring surveillance equipment at such large gatherings.
HAV plans to use its prototype for potential customers to trial payloads, and although the company has not yet any firm orders, Daniels says production and delivery of the first operational aircraft is slated for 2019.
Most of the non-recurring costs of engineering the Airlander were absorbed by the US military, which originally commissioned a version of the aircraft from its UK developer. HAV bought the rights to the design after the project was cancelled in 2013 with a view to developing a commercial variant.
Daniels jokes that HAV will definitely fly the Airlander at Farnborough "if they provide us with a free chalet".