Airlander 10's new propulsion system will be hybrid-electric
It was just last month that Hybrid Air Vehicles announced the planned production version of its prototype Airlander 10 airship. At the time, the company mentioned an optional electric propulsion system – more details on that system have now been released.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Airlander 10, it's currently the world's largest aircraft. Measuring 92 m (302 ft) in length, it's powered by four 325-hp (242-kW) turbocharged diesel engines and uses aerodynamic lift like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft to take off, with helium keeping it aloft once it's in the air.
What's more, it can carry payloads of up to 10,000 kg (22,050 lb), stay in the air for five days at a time with a crew, and doesn't require a purpose-built runway.
We're told that the new electric propulsion system will in fact be a hybrid – the rear two diesel engines will remain in place, but the front two will be replaced by 500-kW electric motors. Operators can run just those two motors for eco-friendly pure-electric flight, or run the motors and engines together for faster hybrid-electric propulsion.
Pure-electric mode should provide a cruising speed of 50 knots (93 km/h, 58 mph) and a maximum range of 350 km (217 miles), with hybrid mode boosting both the range and the speed – the latter up to 70 knots (130 km/h, 81 mph).
The UK-based company states that all told, the hybrid version of the Airlander 10 should be able to transport 90 passengers from Liverpool to Newcastle (a distance of about 200 km/124 miles) in around two hours, but with 90 percent fewer emissions than a conventional airliner – and in greater comfort, with less noise.
It is hoped that the production model of the airship, in both standard and hybrid configurations, will be ready for delivery to clients by 2025.
Source: Hybrid Air Vehicles