The world’s largest aircraft will fly in Spain. The Airlander 10 is a gigantic and modern zeppelin manufactured by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), and it has been chosen by Air Nostrum (a subsidiary of Iberia) to make domestic flights. It is the first airline to opt for this particular aircraft, whose first prototypes had many problems and crashed during the first flights.
The agreement between HAV and Air Nostrum includes the purchase of up to ten airships, with the intention that the first flight of the Airlander 10 will be in 2026. The origin of this airship dates back to 2010, when the US Army designed a modern airship. In 2016, the British company HAV bought the prototype and has been in charge of its development ever since. We are talking about the largest airship on the planet, with a size of 92 meters long. To give us an idea, the Boeing 747 is 71 meters long.
Sustainability is already a non-negotiable fact in the daily operations of commercial aviation.Carlos Bertomeu, Air Nostrum President
According to the manufacturer, the airship is designed to offer short routes with up to 90% fewer emissions. The speed of the Airlander 10 is about 130 kilometers per hour, so it is not particularly fast. Therefore, the idea of Iberia and Air Nostrum is to offer it on short routes, for example between Mallorca and Barcelona.
The Airlander 10 is a hybrid aircraft. It runs on helium, but it is not a typical airship. It does not burn this gas, so it cannot catch fire. But thanks to this helium, which is lighter than air, the large airship can fly without the need for large engines. They explained that the aircraft can fly for five hours even with 100 bullets, but the first tests had so many problems that the project had to be temporarily halted.
In order to be able to start flying on schedule in 2026, it must first obtain certification. Both Iberia and HAV are optimistic that the 10 aircraft can be commissioned by 2030. The first Airlander 10 is scheduled for 2026, with the rest arriving at Air Nostrum’s base in Valencia over the next five years.
It’s a very effective way to reach the de-carbonization targets contemplated in the Fit for 55 legislative initiative.Carlos Bertomeu, Air Nostrum President
The aircraft has a cargo capacity of about 10 tons and can carry about 100 passengers. It has a number of advantages over traditional aircraft. On the one hand, it flies much lower and the cabin does not need to be pressurized. On the other hand, the Airlander 10 does not need a runway and can land on flat surfaces, whether on land or even on water.
Although the airship’s range is about 3,700 kilometers, due to its characteristics, this modern airship is intended for short routes. The routes that Air Nostrum expects to fly have not been officially announced, but the Spanish airline describes it as “ideal for covering many of the most important routes throughout Spain”.
The European Union wants to put an end to short air travel and here the Airlander 10 presents itself as a powerful alternative. According to technical data, the CO2 emissions per passenger of this airship is about 4.5 kg, compared to 53 kg for traditional airplanes.