Known as the future largest aircraft in the world, the Airlander 10 is one step closer to becoming fully operational, after it will be upgraded with four 500 kW electric motors, developed by Collins Aerospace.
It’s been a while since Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has been trying to get the Airlander 10 up in the air. After intensive testing of the prototype (including a costly crash), this strange-looking metal bird seems to be back on track and ready to get some new propulsion. Its fuel-burning engines will be replaced by 500 kW electric motors – 2 forward motors in 2025 and 2 rear ones by 2030.
The collaboration with Collins Aerospace and the University of Nottingham was set up a while ago, but it is only now that Collins announced that it kicked off production for the electric motor, after having completed the critical design review. This innovative motor was designed and tested at the company’s Electronic Controls and Motor Systems Center of Excellence in Solihull, U.K. This is where a recent $18 million investment added cutting-edge motor development capabilities.
Called E-HAV1, this 500 kW electric motor is expected to have a real impact on the future of civil aircraft. The plan is for a hybrid-electric version of the Airlander 10 to be operated in the next 3 years, while the fully-electric, zero-emission model is set to begin flying by 2030. For now, hybrid propulsion looks like the most feasible solution for powering large aircraft while reducing the carbon footprint, but all-electric propulsion is right around the corner.
HAV’s Airlander 10 is a quiet giant that measures 320 feet, and its unusual shape also makes it stand out. But it took a lot of work to improve stability and reduce drag. Plus, its design had to be modified in order to become compatible with the future electric motors.
It takes longer for things to move toward zero-emissions aviation, but things are looking up. In less than 10 years, we could see an all-electric “Flying Bum” (as the Airlander 10 was nicknamed) taking over the sky.