The Airlander is a helium-powered hybrid aircraft/airship, which was originally developed for the US military.
It was test-flown in the US in 2012, but following budget cuts the project was dropped. It is being revived by UK-based company Hybrid Air Vehicles, which is building the Airlander at Cardington in Bedfordshire, where airships were once built for the RAF.
Mike Durham, technical director of HAV, describes the Airlander as a project that could ‘change the world’.
According to Durham, the Airlander will be able to carry up to 50 tonnes of cargo for 1500 miles at speeds of up to 100mph.
The model currently being built is 91m-long, 34m-wide and 26m-high. It will use around 3100l of fuel each day that it is in-flight. According to HAV the Airlander will be able to stay in the air for days and does not require a runway for take-off or landing.
It is hoped that the Airlander may be used for aid distribution, heavy cargo transportation or luxury travel.
The Airlander name, identity and proposition has been developed by Calling Brands, which has been working on the project for around a year.
Dan Rowe, creative director at Calling Brands, says, ‘We wanted to create a name that would be category-defining – it’s a completely new type of vehicle. It’s not a blimp or an airship – it’s a new type of travel.’
Rowe adds, ‘What’s interesting is that it’s such an exciting mode of transport – it’s totally credible but it also has the excitement and appeal of airships.’
The Airlander identity is currently being used on marketing for the project, and Rowe says he hopes that it will be used as aircraft livery and also as a ‘halo brand’ for Airlander partners.