Since the dawn of time. No. Since the dawn of aviation. No. Since dawn, I’ve been reading about hybrid technology and how this is going to change aviation in the long term. Maybe not this decade, but down the line Hybrid vehicles are going to take to the air and once again the atmosphere will teem with machines that can carry vast weights long distances. If the global warming tropical storms don’t get them first. Take a gander at the newest dirigible. The last time I saw something that rude was on Praline Island in the Seychelles where the locals boast about their coconut called the Coca de Mer.
In the last few years flying out of Lanseria I’ve watched a twin engined diesel plane take off and land. Amazing, really. If you’d told one of those old okes with soft helmet and goggles that the twin Diamond was a diesel they would have fallen out of their Sopwith.
Just this week, UK company Airliner received the green light to start flight tests on their Hybrid Air Vehicle (HAV) known as the Airlander. This is the group that crowdsourced their startup and made a whopping £500 000 in ONE day.
Yes. Tuesday 29th March 2016. One day. Half a million pounds.
For the maths boffins, that’s R 10 315 000.00 in our sputtering currency.
There’s real interest from real investors in hybrids. They’ve also used what the gaming fraternity loves which is a full-on buy-in which is direct sponsorship leading to more than just a smug smile. For your £25 you get a hard hat and a big day at the launch. And a T-Shirt and maybe a ride at some point. The investors went bananas. Just like the blokes investing in a great upcoming game called “Deliverance” but that’s another story.
HAV’s machine is basically a hybrid airship that needs no helipad or aerodrome. But it works anywhere. Or so they say. It’s registered as G-PHRG in the UK and even the Europeans have given it permission to take off. In ice, snow, grass and veld nogal.
Formally, it was just a cigar shaped air blimp wing sans aeroplane things. Like control surfaces and a cockpit. Quite important bits these which have now been attached. It also has propulsion which is the big question. What’s going to push this thing through the sky? When there’s a breeze blowing at 30knots? It’s lifted by Helium, luckily not Hydrogen so no Hindenburg moment.
What’s interesting is the blimp’s shape. It’s not really a blimp. It’s more slightly inflated wing which says a great deal about its aerodynamic performance. Still let’s see what happens in the tests.
The Airlander is certainly an interesting looking craft. There are two planned iterations, the 10 and the 50. Here’s a few examples of how it works courtesy of Airlander.
What’s also interesting is its engines. They’re going to work as a kind of mix between ship pods that turn 180 degrees in what’s called vector thrust and something like a Harrier jump jet. But there are a few details missing from the technical specs of the ship.
- How fast will it fly?
- What is its payload?
- What is its operation max in what wind conditions?
- What type of engine is planned?
These are going to be the questions that ultimately dooms the HAV to a have or have-not. And that’s why getting permission to do flight tests is so exciting for us aviation types. The company has been around for a few years and driving intense interest since early 2014. It’s incredibly quick in comparison to other things. I wish a few politicians here in South Africa would become enamoured by the fast rate of change and deliver services at the same speed.
Ok enough of that, time to go fly.