Probably not, but a study to examine the case for introducing Airlander 10 aircraft, a large electric airship, for passenger and freight transport in the Highlands and Islands has been launched by Hybrid Air Vehicles.

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

50 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Mike
Mike (@guest_791363)
4 months ago

The big question, what is the max wind strength it can cope with at take off, landing, for ground handling or flying into headwinds?

Scotland isn’t best known for its windless, calm days

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791416)
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

its the same as a most commercial airliners around 30 knots of cross wind…commercial flights don’t land with more than 35knots of cross wind. one

Speed wise it’s 130kms an hour so you’re not going to get any headwind issues unless you dive it into a hurricane …endurance is five days so you will not have any fuel issues….

basically air lander is being certified to fly in any of the same weather conditions as any other commercial aircraft.

Frank
Frank (@guest_791421)
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Well, the one that was just sat tethered, got blown away and crashed rather easily….. Putting money in to this project is akin to putting money in to Thrust 2 …… where did all that money go ????…. just like “Vulcan to the sky”….

Shaun
Shaun (@guest_792516)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank

If I remember correctly, it was the mooring mast that failed not the aircraft, which has been redesigned since. This is a commercial enterprise which already has an order book not a go faster lark without any hope of making money (no matter how much fun it looked).

SteveM
SteveM (@guest_792088)
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Cross wind don’t really affect has doesn’t need runway, so can always land into the wind? just needs big circle around mooring point

paul harrison
paul harrison (@guest_791364)
4 months ago

No. Don’t be stupid.

But no doubt the SNP will give it a go and waste millions doing it.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791394)
4 months ago
Reply to  paul harrison

Add a zero to the wastage –

‘This isn’t just waste, it is SNP waste’

With apologies to M&S for mangling their strap line.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_791403)
4 months ago

Why it’s funny 🤣

Or the Carley Simon Bond theme “No body wastes it better, none lies twice as much” etc etc

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_791404)
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

We are on firm today!

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791419)
4 months ago
Reply to  paul harrison

I’m not sure why you think it’s a bad idea, one commercial carrier has ordered 20 of these for operations in the Mediterranean islands and mainland links.

Would be sad if we sell loads of theirs to Europe nations but turn our noises up at our own manufacturers base.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_791437)
4 months ago
Reply to  paul harrison

Read the article, the project is funded by Hybrid Air Vehicles, no gov money spent. Otherwise yes, it would be a waste.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791407)
4 months ago

Interestingly a Spanish company has ordered 20 Airlander 10s to provide services across western med and islanders….it’s ability to land on the sea and U.S. any flat air seems to be very good islands.

Frank
Frank (@guest_791414)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

“it’s ability to land on sea and U.S. any flat air seems to be very good islands”….. Mate…… just WTF did you actually try to write there ???? 😂

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791456)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank

F@cking Apple phone spell thingy…should have been it’s ability to land on sea and use any other flat area.

Frank
Frank (@guest_791475)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

😂

Tom
Tom (@guest_791417)
4 months ago

To be fair, I’d like to see some more trials (or tribulations) before writing ‘dirigible’s’ off completely.

In this day and age, I can see how a ‘balloon’ could provide its own energy, using solar, and maybe a wind turbine or some type or another. Experimentation in these ‘fields’ could then help to offset some of the cost of operating them.

Airships have come a long long way over the past 100+ years, and will find their own niche area’s I am sure, in due course.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791483)
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Airlander has actually been ordered in large numbers ( 20) for commercial operations in the med.

Frank
Frank (@guest_791420)
4 months ago

Sounds like Airlander are getting desperate….. Might be OK in still winds but Scotland ? Heck…. and blow that for a lark.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791484)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Not really they actually have an order for their first production runs…20 ordered.

Pete ( the original from years ago)
Pete ( the original from years ago) (@guest_791717)
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank

The body design is basically a wing. The shape generates lift. Been following this for 15 years now. The Airlander 50 concept has some really exciting remote operations potential. 50 mt cargo w/ 50 passengers no passengers and 60 mt cargo.

At 1 stage they had a ‘200’ concept…but they have gone silent on that recently.

Fedex
Fedex (@guest_791427)
4 months ago

If the Faroes can manage it why don’t they seriously look at tunnels to some of the islands. Only thing that will not be affected by the weather.

Last edited 4 months ago by Fedex
Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791436)
4 months ago

Airlander is doing very well all told, with an order for 20 of the Airlander 10 to provide island to island and island to mainland links in the western med…we should see commercial airship flights starting around the med in around 5 years provided by British airships, with the first of the commercial 100 passenger models coming of the product line for 2026…. For the med island hopping they are developing the sea landing options. The same airline company is also now partnering to create the Airlander 50…with five times the payload at 50 tons ( which is twice the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
Jon
Jon (@guest_791482)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Totally agree. I think the UK government has helped in the past, but supporting this new industry with military roots should definitely be on the cards. Airlander 50 could have a payload greater than a A400M, able to take an Ajax. They are a bit pricey to start off with, but I’m sure the price will drop.

Pete ( the original from years ago)
Pete ( the original from years ago) (@guest_791719)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Airlander was partnered with Lockheed Martin for extended us military trials about 12 years ago before money was diverted to other projects.

Concept has fantastic potential for remote resources exploration .

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_791449)
4 months ago

Incidentally, I was discussing Airlander on this site yesterday. It seems to me that a very long-ranged, very long-endurance high payload volume aircraft would be highly useful to the Navy. Not only could one lug Crowsnest around for a week without refuelling, the cargo capacity and long range means that it makes inter-theatre easier with the payload of a Chinook only slightly slower over nearly twice the range.
Most importantly, it would look great painted grey and with “Royal Navy” on the side.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_791485)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

They are already looking at a 50 ton payload as well.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_791488)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, but that isn’t supposed to be available until 2030. Thay variant has a shorter range but would still compete with a Globamaster exchanging speed for near-vertical landing.

Ron
Ron (@guest_791567)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I remember speaking with some of the senior staff at Airlander about the idea of using it for Crows Nest. It seems from the discussion that it is possible and with a few extra EW pods, with five days endurance, although originally designed for 21 days and unmanned. I did ask about turbulance cross winds etc from my understanding it can handle just about everything an airliner can. Yet I wonder, although the Searchwater 2000 of Crowsnest is a straight forward fit possibly the Erieye sytem of the Swedish GlobalEye would be better. Well withing the 10 ton range. One… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_791586)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Yes, that is where my previous conversation was. Thanks for the well-explained reply. Is the new figure of 5 days manned or unmanned? I think it came about due to a switch to electric power, so might not make a difference. Your summarisation of the potential deployments makes sense. However, I would suggest that one of the most useful places for an Airlander AEW would be a CSG. A QE’s flight deck should just about be able to take an Airlander 10 for refueling and crew swap. It is only once a week, after all. The airship is amphibious due… Read more »

Jon
Jon (@guest_791953)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

They could moor onto a mast for refuelling, and RPAS/autonomy can’t be that difficult. They could also land on the sea, in clement sea states.

However, I like the idea of a combined Heavy Lift and AEW combined, if it’s not too expensive. Airlander 50 bringing goods, crew, mail, possibly weekly, then spending a week in the air as AEW, finally refueling and heading home, rotating with the next incoming airship. Can then function as a backup AEW, maybe a bit further away from trouble.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_792059)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Any AEW with 50t of disposable payload available is going to be a chunky piece of kit; a Wedgetail weighs only 77 tonnes fully loaded and 46 empty. Yes, some weight would be for power generation and extra fuel for that, but you’d probably be not far off slinging Artisan or even Sampson underneath with 50t, for theatre-wide AWACS stuff. I think using Airlander 10 for AEW would be more realistic, with the 50 only used, say, to lift a couple of F35s home for overhaul (something well within that envelope). In that case it would probably live on/floating around… Read more »

Jon
Jon (@guest_792303)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

That’s a good question about hybrid. I don’t know. If it’s effectively STOL, that changes everything. There’s another technology that might come to the rescue. It’s possible to expand and compress the helium inside the airship to alter bouyancy. Perhaps having extra bouyancy when landing and less drag when moving will be the way it will go in the future. I don’t think HAV use this at the moment.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_792347)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

The hybrid means that it effectively takes off at an angle from a point like a bird. The forwards thrusters can be tilted to provide the necessary lift while speed builds up. That’s why Airlander isn’t marketed as an airship but as a “hybrid aircraft”: you still need clearance around the landing site to allow horizontal takeoff, even if that area isn’t actually touched by the craft.

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_792736)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Of the two available versions, Airlander 50 is probably the more useful design. The reason for this is is two fold. The 50 can carry more weight, so it will have more potential for future growth. The other is duration, it can do about 2000 miles at max load. It would be very easy for Airlander to become an AEW platform. The helium filled envelop is a perfect environment for a radar. But as importantly, Airlander has the capacity to carry the Wedgetail’s MESA radar. Where the “top hat” antenna array can provide 360 degrees of view. The Erieye does… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_792739)
4 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

You mention the helium envelope. Does that mean the radar would be carried internally, making landing easier? I’d rather the Navy had their own first-tier AEW than the RAF get two platforms, due to Airlander’s amphibious capability and near-VTOL in non-enclosed spaces. One could live near a CSG as outlined above and even if it can’t land on a ship due to increased size, would still be able to be maintained and supplied by accompanying RFAs. I would enjoy a Thunderbird 2 Airlander or flying aircraft carrier that carries 2 or 3 Protector slung beneath and does refuelling and Comms… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_792755)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Yes, the MESA radar would be inside the envelop above the cabin. This will give it protection from the elements. The smaller X/Ku band could be in either the envelop or mounted to the sides of the cabin, as the panel arrays are much smaller. But if its expected to land on the water, its probably best to also put them in the envelop. The Airlander has a broad range of possibilities. Which I believe raises more questions that need to be debated. For instance, could it be considered in the same light as a small ship, rather than an… Read more »

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst (@guest_792280)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I’ll just remind everyone about Airship Industries in the 1980’s and the big plans with Westinghouse for a large Skyship 5000 stationed mid Atlantic for one week endurance with a big internal AWAS radar fit as part of a huge US Navy defence contract Again ground-handling is the issue. Also needs to be brought inside during a storm so just leaving at the mast is not an option. The prototype 500 type was destroyed at a mast during a storm at Cardington so that it would not break free into the airlanes. I still think airships are possible, but the… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_792352)
4 months ago

I’ve looked up Skyship, and it appears to be simply an enormous blimp and therefore subject to all of the handling issues with true airships. Airlander, as outlined above, works differently. It is actually heavier than air and is shaped so that it can be operated in similar conditions to the limits for commercial airliners (40mph crosswind) and maybe past that due to lack of runway. HAV have also thought about ground handling. Under each side of the envelope (split in two halves) visible on the picture above are the two inflatable landing pads. These can either act like hovercraft… Read more »

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst (@guest_792416)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I wish HAV well, and I have faith in airships. However, I think you may need to do some more research into Airship Industries and their Skyships – especially the $18Billon US Navy defence contract where they teamed up with Westinghouse for a big AWCS system. T The Skyship series were not “blimps.” (Blimp = non-steerable balloon). The Skyships were dirigibles. Were state of the art at the time. 10-years ahead of Boeing and Goodyear. Had the worlds largest kevlar structure and used modern materials for the envelope which was filled with helium. State of the art avionics inc. military… Read more »

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst (@guest_792420)
4 months ago

…that should read AWACS and of course the Skyships all had vectored thrust.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_792552)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Not sure about how easy turning into the wind and trying to do dipping sonar would be for a 90m airship, though winch capacity for the dipper would likely be extravagant.
Yes, small island bases would be ideal for Airlander in the AEW and surveillance roles. Less so Akrotiri given the regular visits by aircraft with similar capability but the Falklands would certainly benefit from their own capacity for AEW and long-range surveillance.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_793372)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Yes, the sonobuoy capacity on Airlander would be frankly extravagant. DaveyB has suggested that an Airlander 50 could carry a significant number of the new 11m MCM boats, providing them most mobile minesweeping/ASW force on Earth. It would only really be useful in the littoral but the transit speed would more thanake up for that

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_793429)
4 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

If you think what I have written is “Taking the time” then try a conversation with daveyB!
Anyway, I do like the idea of the “reverse aircraft carrier”, if only for the novelty factor.

Rob N
Rob N (@guest_791498)
4 months ago

I can see passengers ending up in Scandinavia.

Coll
Coll (@guest_791685)
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

That’s fine. The Shetland Islands want to be part of Scandinavia.

Jon
Jon (@guest_791848)
4 months ago

Not sure why this is pitched for Scotland here. Surely it’s an excellent HS2 replacement: London to Birmingham. Fifty Airlander 10s, one leaving every five minutes, similar time to conventional train (about eighty mins), tiny infrastructure, green, no nimbys. Cost less than £3bn. Leeds-Manchester-Manchester Airport looks attractive too.

If HAV can get the speed up (and I think they can), it becomes an even better proposition.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon
Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_792364)
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Excellent idea. But how can the tories fund spare luxery yachts for their rich mates without HS2?

Charles Verrier
Charles Verrier (@guest_792244)
4 months ago

I love that Airlander is out there – doing something different.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_792361)
4 months ago

With airheads ruling over us, why not!

Yes
Yes (@guest_792824)
4 months ago

Blimps are awesome. Hope someone will make them work.