Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has received the necessary European and national approvals to return its Airlander 10 airship – now named Martha Gwyn – to flight.
Both the European Aviation Safety Agency and UK Civil Aviation Authority have issued the required permissions, meaning the hybrid airship is ready to take to the skies again, once ground testing is complete.
"This clearly demonstrates the regulators' confidence in Airlander, and the development team's ability to safely flight test the aircraft,” says Carl Thomas, Airlander’s airworthiness and certification officer.
On 12 April the Airlander 10-001 vehicle that is ready to fly was officially named “Martha Gwyn” by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, after the wife of HAV’s chairman, Philip Gwyn.
An equity crowdfunding campaign has taken place in recent weeks to help bankroll the programme, so far raising over £1 million ($1.43 million), well above the original target of £500,000, which was reached within the first 10h of the campaign opening, the company says.
The Crowdcube campaign ends on 15 April, with the investment capped at a maximum of £1.25 million, HAV says. It follows a similar crowdfunding effort that took place in 2015 and raised £2.1 million.
The complete Airlander 10 that was revealed in March
Airlander’s development dates back to HAV’s participation in the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle effort, when it was selected by the prime contractor Northrop Grumman for its bid.
It was subsequently bought back by HAV when the programme was cancelled in 2013, and HAV has been working on returning it to flight from its Bedfordshire hangar since.
The company envisions it being a passenger and cargo-carrying vehicle, while unmanned surveillance variants are also planned, and interest has been received from the commercial and military sectors. A larger variant, the Airlander 50, is also in the pipeline.