The construction of 10 new eco-friendly airships in South Yorkshire will create about 1,800 jobs.
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), a small Bedford-based company, announced on Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with a Spanish airline to deliver 10 of its 100 passenger Airlander’s 10 helium-filled aircraft.
The aircraft, which the company says will have less than a tenth of the CO2 footprint per jet plane passenger, will be built in a new green space production cluster in South Yorkshire.
Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng said commissioners of Ireland showed that the UK was at the forefront of “revolutionary” green aircraft technology.
“Hybrid aircraft can play an important role as we transform into a cleaner form of aviation, and it is wonderful to see the UK move forward with technological advances,” he said.
“The deal, revolutionary, British-built and designed, increases the likelihood that the Airlander 10 will fly across Spanish skies. This is further evidence that UK businesses are embracing new technologies and supporting highly skilled UK jobs. “
The aircraft, which according to HAV will have about 4.5kg of CO2 footprint per passenger compared to about 53kg in a jet, is expected to take to the skies in 2026 with the Spanish carrier Air Nostrum.
Carlos Bartomeu, president of Air Nostrum, said: “Airlander 10 will significantly reduce emissions and that is why we have entered into this agreement with HAV. Sustainability, which is good news for everyone, is already a non-negotiable fact in the day-to-day operations of commercial aviation. “
The airline, which currently operates flights to Iberia, did not say which route the airlander would operate. HAV had earlier said that it was expected to fly to Palma de Mallorca from Barcelona in four and a half hours.
HAV, which in the past has attracted funding from Peter Hambro, founder of the Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk, and Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman, said its aircraft was “ideal for intercity mobility applications such as the current inter-city mobility application from Liverpool to Belfast and from Seattle to Vancouver.” Can serve with small fractions. “
Tom Grandi, CEO of HAV, said: “Airlander is designed to provide a better future for sustainable aviation, enable new transport networks and provide faster growth options for our customers. Our partnership with Air Nostrum Group as the launch airline for Airlander 10 takes us into that future. ”
The craft was originally designed as a surveillance vehicle for intelligence missions in Afghanistan. HAV claims that independent estimates put the value of the airship market at $ 50bn (£ 41bn) over the next 20 years. It aims to sell its 265 Airlander craft during that time.
The £ 25m Airlander 10 prototype took six test flights, some of which ended badly. It crashed on its second test flight in 2016, after a successful first 30-minute voyage. HAV tweeted at the time: “Airlander suffered damage during today’s flight. No casualties were reported in the air or telegraph poles. ”