The UK's Airlander 10 — the largest aircraft in the world — is continuing to attract investment. The craft's designers, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), have won a €2.5 million ($2.7 million) grant from the EU from a fund to develop green transport initiatives. This sum is on top of a £3.4 million ($5 million) grant awarded by the UK government earlier this year, with HAV also aiming to raise an additional £2 million via equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.
the airlander can land anywhere and stay afloat for days
Although airships like the Airlander 10 look unwieldy, it has a number of unique advantages over conventional craft. Because the Airlander uses inert helium to provide most of its lift, it can stay afloat for days with minimal fuel costs. When it does move it uses only a third of the fuel of regular planes (although it's much slower — only reaching speeds of up to 100mph), and its capacity to hover means it can land pretty much anywhere — including on water. The Airlander 10 also has one of the lowest carbon emissions of any aircraft in the world and is capable of carrying up to 50 tons of freight for distances up to 1,600 miles.
The craft was originally developed for long-term surveillance and reconnaissance by the US military, but when budget cuts meant the project was scrapped, it was bought back by HAV. Now, the company wants to develop it for a range of commercial purposes, including "freight, remote access, aid distribution, advertising, surveillance, communications and luxury passenger transport." This latest grant from the EU will be used to create a regulatory framework for the Airlander, a necessary step before orders for the craft can be made.
Verge Video: The world's largest aircraft