Hoping to ignite a surge of interest in European airship service, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the Bedford-based aeronautical firm in England, has just announced new short-hop routes for its low-carbon emission Airlander blimp that would provide alternatives to standard commuter airline flights.
Using a fraction of the carbon footprint compared to conventional transportation options, the environmentally-conscious, 100-passenger Airlander 10 airship has announced routes from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four and a half hours; Liverpool to Belfast in five hours and 20 minutes; Oslo to Stockholm, in six and a half hours; and Seattle to Vancouver in a touch over four hours.
In an interview with The Guardian, Tom Grundy, HAV’s chief executive, calls the futuristic Airlander a “fast ferry” that’s a short-term solution to a greater global crisis. Incredibly, nearly 47% of regional airline flights unite cities that are less than 230 miles apart, which results in a massive amount of unnecessary carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere.
“We’ve got aircraft designed to travel very long distances going very short distances, when there is actually a better solution,” Grundy noted. “How much longer will we expect to have the luxury of travel ling these short distances with such a big carbon footprint?”
Grundy says their hybrid-electric Airlander craft could achieve similar connections with just 10% of the carbon footprint, and with even less emissions down the road when the HAV airships transition over to all-electric.
The bulbous Airlander 10 can lift off and land from nearly any flat surface, reaching altitudes of up to 7,000 feet and speeds of roughly 57 mph during initial testing. HAV has fortified their development with the benefit of U.K. government backing and European Union grants which will allow them to produce approximately 12 Airlander 10 models a year by 2025.
HAV is currently in discussions with numerous airlines to fly these newly-announced routes, and intends on announcing other partnerships and airline customers in upcoming months.
The company has already inked a deal to build an airship for the luxury Swedish travel company OceanSky Cruises, which intends on operating the airship for “experiential travel” excursions over the North Pole with noted Arctic explorer Robert Swan.
“It’s an early and quick win for the climate,” Grundy said. “Especially when you use this to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”