304 inflation and further construction at Cardington
Elliptical Airship or "Burney Airship"
Elliptical Airship landing on water
cross section of the Ellipitical ship
comparison with Airbus A380
detail of the control cabin
profile of envelope
profile of enveolope
shots of the HAV 304 in flight in it's United States Army
livery prior to arrival at Cardington
since the final dismantling of the R100 in 1932, had a Cardington
Shed shed been seen filled with an airship envelope of a size
HAV 340 or know as the "Airlander 10" is the first large
scale ship produced by company Hybrid Air Vehicles. The company
owes many of it's 30 year history and background to Airship Industries
from the 1980's, and it's designer and Director, Roger Munk.
company had worked on a smaller scale model of the ship during
the early part of the 2010's and a proof of concept vehicle had
show, one interested purchaser, that the vehicle could fill a
role in aviation surveillance and cargo transportation. That interested
party was the United States Army who asked the company to design
and build the ship for them.
was completed in 2013, however as part of the recession and budget
cuts, the project was decided to be dropped. The ship was completed,
and had flown a test flight, proving airworthiness in the United
States. It was the quick decision of Hybrid Air Vehicles, to purchase
the ship back off the United States Army, deflate, and return
it to the UK.
that, the ship arrived back in December 2013 and was air inflated
in the recently restored Shed 1 at Cardington, probably the only
building which was capable of storing such an aircraft. At the
present time, the ship will be slowly re-inflated and floated
with inert helium.
concept of the Elliptical Airship
shape of the AIRLANDER may be seen as a completely new hull design
compared to historical and contemporary airships. However the
shape can be traced back to as early as 1929, when Sir Dennistoun
Burney, the driver behind the Imperial Airship Scheme, working
with Barnes Wallis, had come up with the wing shaped concept.
Quoting from his book "The World, The Air, The Future" the ship
would be designed as follows:
basic idea of the new pontoon-equipped dirigible is to enable
it to land at unprepared places. Our object is to keep the ship
under dynamic control by means of rudders and elevators, until
it can be securely held, and is no longer in danger of being blown
over by a side wind. To achieve this, two long floats, similar
to the hulls of flying boats, but much larger, were constructed
under midship. These are fitted with ballast tanks, and fixed
to the hull, as far apart in a transverse direction as possible.
At the same time the section is altered from the standard circular
to an elliptical section. This reduces the overall height and
lessens resistance to side winds. It also increases the dynamic
lift at a given speed, and by enabling the boat hull to be more
widely spread, increases the righting moment of the floats.
are, of course, many minor problems connected with the development
of the new dirigible. The advantages of the Ellip- tical ship
by no means stop at mooring and handling. Owing to greater width
of beam, it will have at any given speed a greater dynamic lift
and therefore less difficulty in maintaining an approximately
even keel in the air than is the case with a circular vessel.
Again, as it will be able to dispense with the greater part of
the ballast now carried, the equivalent weight of this can be
added to the pay load. Nor must we forget the all-important question
of size. A helpful factor in the construction of dirigibles is
that efficiency increases with size. Hitherto, it has been impossible
to increase size to any great extent, owing to the difficulty
of handling and the fact they cannot make an unpremeditated landing.
In the case of the pontoon-equipped ship, however, these hindrances
will be removed, and it will be possible to build a ship of twice
or even three times the capacity of R100 or R101. "
AIRLANDER is designed to be the safest form of air travel. The
vehicle does not stall, lands on any reasonably flat surface and
has a takeoff and landing speed of around 40 knots. It is fitted
with four propulsion units and with close on 10,000 Shaft horsepower
(SHP) for the 50 tonne variant it has sufficient power and range
to deal with the most challenging environments;
A vehicle that uses a combination of buoyancy (helium gas) and
aerodynamics (the shape of the body) to generate lift. This hybrid
is in essence an aircraft with some inherent buoyancy, similar
to a lifting body (a vehicle in which the body itself produces
lift). This design creates the perfect balance between economic
flight (typically associated with airships), operational flexibility
(typically associated with helicopters), range and payload;
The AIRLANDER range consists of two groups Surveillance
and Heavy Lift. The surveillance vehicle can operate at up to
16,000 feet, 5 days manned. The Heavy Lift version is designed
for transportation of passengers and cargo;
A key attribute is operational flexibility. In addition to Conventional
Take-Off and Landing (CTOL), the vehicle is also capable of Vertical
Take-Off and Landing (VTOL). It can, for example, hover like a
helicopter while hoisting up to 40% of its designed payload
20 tons in the case of the AIRLANDER 50. However, the range and
payload of the vehicle far exceeds that of helicopters - most
rotary aircraft have an operating radius of 150 300 nautical
miles (278 556 kilometres), whereas the AIRLANDER 50 has
a range of 2,600 nautical miles (4,815 kilometres);
The AIRLANDER excels in operational efficiency. For example, the
Heavy Lift version requires little or no infrastructure to operate.
For CTOL it requires no runway and less than four hull lengths
to take off or land. The surveillance model, currently being built
for the US Army, was rated by the Congressional Budget Office
as having a payload-duration about 80 times that of the
Grey Eagle (the next best competitor); The Heavy Lift version
uses an innovative landing system called Air Cushion Landing System
(ACLS). This enables the vehicle to land on almost any reasonably
flat surface, including land, water, ice and snow. Suction can
also be used to ensure the vehicle remains stationary during loading
and off-loading. This lack of reliance on infrastructure allows
the vehicle to operate point-to-point (from source to site), offering
major benefits in terms of time, risk reduction, operating costs
and the environment.
AIRLANDER is a hybrid air vehicle and derives its flight capability
from a mix of aerodynamic lift and helium buoyancy.
envelope is constructed from a laminated fabric that offers strength,
a gas barrier and protection against the elements. It also has
an internal catenary system supporting the payload module. The
hulls aerodynamic shape, an elliptical cross-section allied
to a cambered longitudinal shape, provides roughly 40% of the
vehicles lift. The internal diaphragms required to support
this shape allow for some compartmentalisation, further enhancing
the fail-safe nature of the vehicle. Multiple air-filled ballonets
located fore and aft in each of the hulls form part of the automated
pressure management system.
vehicles that operate from a set base, simple profiled pneumatic
tubes on the underside of the two outer hulls are used. This simplified
landing system saves weight and is used mainly on the unmanned
surveillance vehicles, further increasing their endurance.
Heavy Lift versions of the AIRLANDER uses an innovative landing
system called the Air Cushion Landing System (ACLS). This enables
the vehicle to land on almost any reasonably flat surface including
land, water, ice and snow. The ACLS is also used, in conjunction
with the bow thruster, to simplify manoeuvrability on the ground,
reducing the need to operate the main propulsion units. The ACLS
can also be used to create suction to ensure the AIRLANDER remains
stationary during loading and off-loading.
landing systems are deflated and sucked-into the hull
for a clean in-flight profile. The power units used for inflation
/ deflation are shared with the ballonet fans and managed by the
hull pressurisation system.
the AIRLANDER is effectively an aircraft with inherent buoyancy,
it is fitted with significant power plants that are more akin
to those found on fixed wing aircraft. While most airships have
less than 1,000 SHP (Shaft Horsepower), the AIRLANDER 50, for
example, will have four turbine engines generating around 10,000
the present time we will continue to monitor the progress of the
return of the airships to Cardington. We are working with the
Hybrid Air Vehicles team and will provide details and updates
as and when available. With the excitement building, it looks
like the Airlander 10 will be flying above Bedfordshire on proving
flights in April or May 2016.
new ship 2016
2014 and 2015 the ship was reassembled and checked, replacing
the main gondola and command cabin, and installation of upgraded
and improved equipment. Engline tests and helium ordered over
the summer of 2015, with final completion and assembly in winter
2015. By March 2016, the ship was completed and on 21st March
the ship was unveilled to the world press.
UK Flight - 17th August 2016
HAV Airlander 10 prototype was walked out of shed 1, at 04:00AM
on the morning of Saturday 6th August, whereby the ship was moved
to the souther part of the landing field. The ship spent a week
undergoing engine tests and pre flight preparations outside.
the evening of 17th August at 7:40pm the Airlander 10 prototype
took to the skies for a short local test flight of 30 minutes.
All systems and operations worked perfectly.
ship remained at the mooring site for a further 7 days, for further
engine tests and crew training.
UK Flight - 24th August 2016
the morning of 24th August the HAV Airlander 10 took off for it's
second test flight, performing perfectly for a first 100 minute
flight and successful test flight, which demonstrated the excellent
flight characteristics of Airlander, and the test objectives in
the second flight completed included a series of turns at increasing
speed, and a series of climbs and descents up to 3,000 feet in
altitude over a 100 minute flight. Some technical tests on hull
pressure were also undertaken. On return at 12:30pm the ship came
in to land, but the front nose dropped causing damage to the flight
deck and forward gondola. The ship was able to land, and both
the test pilot and engineers were unharmed.
ship was checked over, and then it was decided to move the HAV
Airlander 10 prototype in to Shed 1, where she was returned at
8:00pm that evening. The HAV team are reviewing the operations
and undertaking the first stages of returning the aircraft back
to Flight - April 2017
the winter of 2016, the HAV Airlander was shed bound, whilst the
full investigation in to the heavy landing of the second flight,
and repairs to the cockpit could be undertaken. The official
report noted that a mooring line had become jammed, and hence
snagged on power lines when coming in to land, this meant that
the pilot had to make a higher landing than originally planned.
This lead to the damage caused on the second landing. These issues
were reviewed and 63 mondifications were made to the ship following
the report. The ship's design changes includes deployable "bump
bags" which can be deployed in 15 seconds on landing which
will protect the cockpit but also stop the nose from "surging"
to the ground.
Friday night of 7th April 2017, the HAV Airlander was taken out
of the shed and moored awaiting further air trials in the spring.
Further ground testing and engine trials followed the week later
whislt out on the airfield.
UK Flight - 10th May 2017
evening of Wednesday 10th May was the perfect evening for the
first testing flight of 2017, as the Airlander 10 returned to
the skies. The team were delighted to announce a successful flight
of the Airlander 10 . All objectives of the planned flight were
accomplished. The Airlander was taken off its mooring mast at
17:20 and took off at 17:28. It flew for a total of three hours
before landing at 20:15 and was secured safely on the mast at
On board were Airlanders two Test Pilots; Chief Test Pilot
Dave Burns and Experimental Test Pilot, Simon Davies.
UK Flight - 13 June 2017
continued its pioneering test flight programme by successfully
completing another flight over Bedfordshire. This is the Airlander
10s fourth flight and second in 2017. Each flight sees Airlander
pushing its envelope a little further and increasing our understanding
of this innovative new aircraft.
The Airlander was taken off its mooring mast at 6.10pm and took
off at 6.12pm. It flew for a total of 3 hrs 23 minutes before
landing at 9.25pm and was secured safely on the mast at 9.33pm.
Test Objectives revolved around expanding the flight envelope
and further testing of the flight characteristics. The ship reached
3700 feet altitude and 37 knots speed and these are approaching
the maximum limits the Airlander team will go to during our initial
test flights whilst they calibrate all data on Airlander. They
expect to expand this envelope significantly in a few flights
once the basic handling has been fully tested.
UK Flight - 4th July 2017
slightly overcast evening greeted the Airlander in continued its
test flight programme for it's fifth test flight.
The Airlander took off at 18:07pm. It flew for a total of 2 hours
and 22 minutes before landing at 20:36pm and was secured safely
on the mast. It was a good flight despite low cloud keeping the
ship to 3500ft. Chief Test Pilot, Dave Burns, practiced at landing
at altitude and landed exceptionally smoothly.