Airships may indeed be well-suited to tasks like cargo transport, surveying and surveillance, but what really captures peoples' imaginations is the thought of travelling aboard one as a tourist. Well, according to Britain's Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), such a scenario could soon be a reality.

HAV is the developer of the Airlander 10, which is currently the world's largest aircraft. 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. Additionally, 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.

Although it is still in the test-flight phase, most of its anticipated applications so far have centered around the industrial sector. This Thursday, however, HAV announced two new developments that could lead to the aircraft's use in the field of tourism, as well.

First of all, the company revealed that next year, UK-based Henry Cookson Adventures (HCA) will become the first private excursion company to trial the Airlander 10. HCA will be taking the aircraft on its first international flight – an "expeditionary journey" – with an eye towards ultimately using a type-certified version of it for transporting paying customers to remote and exotic locations around the world.

Secondly, it was announced that the luxury cabin interiors that could feature in that version of the aircraft are being designed by British firm Design Q. The design process is being financed via a £60,000 Innovate UK government grant.

"The ability to stay aloft for days at a time, in virtual silence, with floor-to-ceiling windows and fresh air make Airlander perfect for cruising in exceptional locations," HAV states in a press release.

Source: Hybrid Air Vehicles

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