Hopes to restore Cardington as centre of airship production

Launch of SkyCat 20 on the cards with promise of a revamp of Number One Shed

A business hoping to restore Cardington as a centre of airship production welcomed the go-ahead for a new 425 housing scheme cat and the promised revamp of Number One Shed.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd is the new name of a company which emerged from the Cardington-based SkyCat Group.

Gordon Taylor, director of marketing and sales, said the rebranded firm was pressing ahead with plans for a helium-filled aircraft capable of lifting 20-tonnes, the SkyCat 20, with potential uses as a freight and passenger carrier lined up.

And he added that the machine could be built at Cardington if all goes well.

Mr Taylor said: "If we had the commitment today, and we are moving close, we could have one flying in 24 months and certified for flight in 30 to 36 months.

"It could be built at Cardington, and that's why I am delighted at the planning approval, as we could use Number One Shed. We could use both sheds, but that depends on Warner Bros."

Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) was a previous presence at Cardington before going into administration in 2005.

It was salvaged the following year and re-emerged as the part-British, part Italian-owned SkyCat Group.

As Hybrid Air Vehicles, it has been re-formed as a British venture pushing designs for a range of SkyCat aircraft with payloads of up to 1000 tonnes.

Current hopes are for attracting interest from mining and oil companies, which need cargo shifted to inaccessible areas, and even for "eco-tourism", such as carrying travellers to the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Despite the largest SkyCat to so far take to the air being only a14-metre long prototype, Mr Taylor said he was "very optimistic" about the company's future.