New Airlander funding
Bedfordshire-based Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has been awarded a £3.4 million grant by the government’s regional growth fund that will create 40 new jobs and see its revolutionary Airlander aircraft flying sooner, writes Clive Simpson.
The grant is part of new funding being announced this morning by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as an extension to the nearly £3 billion invested by the government to generate growth in regional businesses across England.
“RGF is about job creation and it will enable us to double our workforce to around 80 employees in short order and ultimately create over 150 new jobs,” says Chris Daniels, head of partnerships and communications at HAV.
“It starts immediately with payments proceeding once due diligence is complete. The amount is paid periodically over 13 months and will be subject to us meeting the employment targets.”
HAV CEO, Stephen McGlennan, says the RGF funding will enable the ground-breaking and entirely new type of aircraft to start flying much sooner than would have otherwise been the case.
“This kind of innovation is Britain at its best and will enable a British SME to maintain its global market leadership in an aviation market independently assessed to be worth over £33 billion (US$50 billion) over the next 20 years.”
HAV says the grant also unlocks private equity investment and will lead to commercial agreements with customers to extend funding of the business through a series of trials and demonstrations in 2016.
McGlennan added: “The commitment of the UK government to our business is vital and this will ensure we fly our innovative Airlander aircraft and enter the commercial market.
“The potential for Airlander is enormous and we relish creating exports and jobs as we lead the field globally.”
Local Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt said: “To see the new airship taking shape at Cardington is very exciting and the award is further proof of the sustainability of this developing technology.”
HAV’s Airlander is billed as the largest and one of the greenest aircraft in the world. It combines the best of airplanes, helicopters and airships in a unique way to create an entirely new type of aircraft.
Airlander’s revolutionary shape – providing 40 per cent of its aerodynamic lift with the remainder coming from helium – means it can transport 10 tonnes of cargo, or keep a full crew aloft for five days.
With the ability to fly for days without refuelling and land on any flat surface, Airlander has far-reaching and flexible potential including humanitarian missions, cargo transport to remote areas, and search-and-rescue.
Last year the company received an Innovate UK grant which is funding current engine and wind tunnel testing work.