Bedford built Airlander 10 gets £1m grant to go electric

Airlander 10 is to be at the forefront of zero-carbon aviation thanks to £1m funding to develop an electric engine.

Bedford firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), Collins Aerospace, and the University of Nottingham (UoN) has been awarded a grant of more than £1m from the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme for the project.

MBTC Airlander 10

MBTC Airlander 10

Named E-HAV1, it will deliver a full-sized prototype 500kW electric engine for ground testing.

The technology will replace Airlander’s fuel-burning forward engines.

HAV’s chief executive, Stephen McGlennan, said: “Reducing our carbon footprint is one of the biggest challenges facing aviation today.

“While Airlander 10 is already helping customers ‘Rethink the Skies’ with incredible efficiency, we have to find ways of further reducing the impact we have on our environment. This project will move us closer to our goal of zero-carbon aviation.”

“As the innovation leader in electric power systems for the aerospace and defence industry, Collins Aerospace is proud to join with our partners in advancing this critical initiative,” said Marc Holme, Motor Drive Systems Engineering director.

“Together, we’re developing innovative technologies that will pave the way for the hybrid-electric and all-electric aircraft of the future.”

Prof Pat Wheeler, Head of the University of Nottingham’s Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, added: “we are really looking forward to the exciting challenges of applying our technological knowledge of electrical machines, power electronics and power systems to the Airlander propulsion application.”

Business Minister, Lord Henley, said: “The UK has world-leading capabilities in aerospace manufacturing. The testing of this new electric engine, is our modern Industrial Strategy in action. This is a vital step in aerospace manufacturing to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of hybrid-electric technology, using the best talent, industry and innovation to transform the way people, goods and services move across the UK.”

Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander hybrid aircraft.

Airlander can take off and land from virtually any flat surface and offers a powerful combination of flexibility, persistence, payload capacity, and efficiency.

The prototype £32m Airlander 10 was retired after its collapse in 2017, following six successful test flights with production moving away from Cardington Hangars.