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George Land: “New technologies like Hybrid Aircraft will reshape how the world thinks about flying”

By Inge Serrano, Communication Manager at OceanSky Cruises. Photo: Carolin Forsberg


 We interviewed George Land, the Commercial Business Development Director at Hybrid Air Vehicles, responsible for the sales and marketing of the aircraft into commercial markets. George began his career as a commercial graduate trainee at British Aerospace. He has gone on to hold a number of commercial director roles in the aerospace industry, before joining HAV. 

What is HAV’s mission and vision?
HAV’s vision is to be a key part of the future of zero emission aviation. We expect Airlander to be the first large scale aircraft, capable of carrying up to 100 passengers or 10 tonnes, to achieve zero emission flight.

HAV’s mission is to deliver an aircraft that offers our customers a new choice to address their challenges with minimal environmental impact. We’re creating an aircraft that’s sustainable, capable, flexible and cost-effective. 

What makes the Airlander 10 different to other airship developments in the industry?
A key difference between Airlander and other airship developments is that Airlander is not a traditional airship. Airlander is a hybrid aircraft, utilising a combination of lighter-than-air and aerodynamic lift technologies.

This allows Airlander to benefit from the efficiency of buoyant lift while minimising the operational challenges associated with traditional airships. HAV is also the only company to have flight tested this technology at full scale. This is a significant milestone in any new aircraft development programme.

George Land, Commercial Business Development Director at Hybrid Air Vehicles

The Airlander 10 flying. Photo: Hybrid Air Vehicles

What are the main advantages Airlander has over an airplane? 
Airlander 10’s innovative design means that it has many features and benefits that conventional airplanes do not have. For example, Airlander can land anywhere as it requires minimal infrastructure, needing only an open, relatively flat space to take off and land.

Airlander is inherently efficient. Using the buoyant lift of helium reduces the fuel burn required just to keep the aircraft airborne, with most of the airframe’s weight lifted by the helium’s buoyancy. Even before adopting electrification technologies, this efficiency results in a much smaller environmental impact from operations.

Airlander will also offer customers a fantastic experience. Airlander 10’s spacious cabin can be configured for different applications. The floor-to-ceiling windows are a focal point, providing passengers with incredible views and natural light. The aircraft is extremely quiet as the engines are far away from the passenger cabin and the low vibration makes it a calm, more comfortable journey.

Why are hybrid aircraft going to revolutionise the future of air travel?
Hybrid aircraft like Airlander have an important part to play in the future of air travel. Their inherent efficiency dramatically reduces their carbon footprint. Airlander’s design also enables the early adoption of electrification technologies including hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors. HAV is committed to delivering a zero emission, all-electric Airlander 10 before 2030.

Airlander is also able to operate away from the substantial infrastructure required by most transport, like airfields and rail lines. This enables point-to-point connections, removing intermodal steps for cargo and streamlining journeys for passengers. Reduced infrastructure also has a role to play in further decarbonising our transport. New technologies like hybrid aircraft and others will reshape how the world thinks about flying.  

“We are creating an aircraft that’s sustainable, capable, flexible and cost-effective” 

The Airlander. Photo: Hybrid Air Vehicles

What uses will HAV’s aircraft have?
In addition to a luxury expedition configuration with eight double ensuite cabins, like OceanSky Cruises is offering, Airlander 10 has a number of applications. The same spacious cabin can be configured to carry up to 100 passengers over regional routes in a mobility application.

Airlander 10 can carry up to 10 tonnes of payload. In logistics, this offers an option between fast, carbon intensive air freight and slow sea freight. Future aircraft in the Airlander family will be able to carry even larger payloads.

The same efficiency that reduces Airlander’s emissions also gives it the ability to stay airborne for up to five days. In communications and surveillance roles, this persistent, high-payload capability is unmatched by aircraft available today.

In which stage of development is the Airlander 10 currently and when do you estimate to deliver the first aircraft?
The HAV team is preparing for the launch of the Airlander 10 production programme. The first type certified Airlander 10 aircraft will be delivered to customers from 2025-2026

Airships are not pressurised, which makes it possible to enjoy panoramic glass floors

Airlander luxury expedition configuration has eight double en-suite cabins

Peace, luxury and comfort on board are the hallmarks of flying in an airship

Photos: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles

“Airlander is able to operate away from the substantial infrastructure required by most transport, like airfields and rail lines. This enables point-to-point connections, removing intermodal steps for cargo and streamlining journeys for passengers”

What can you tell us about the onboard experience? What will it be like to travel on Airlander?
The luxury cabin will provide an incredible onboard experience for passengers. Similar to a luxury yacht, passengers will be able to walk around and enjoy comfortable seating areas, excellent meals and a fully equipped bar. There will be eight double ensuite cabins for guests to relax and sleep while they travel, waking up at their destination refreshed.