Flights between Recife and Joao Pessoa or between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo take less than an hour, but leave tens of kilograms of carbon dioxide as a route. To reduce pollutant emissions, a British startup, called Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), has developed environmentally friendly commercial airships for short-distance city transfers.
HAV is headquartered in Bedford, a city 74 kilometers north of London, and wants to serve routes like Liverpool-Belfast (the capital of Northern Ireland) until 2025. The startup also included the route between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, with the Airlander 10 airship. With a capacity of 100 passengers.
Typically, a plane ride between Liverpool and Belfast takes 50 minutes, the same time as Barcelona’s Palma de Mallorca. Duration is exactly the downside of the balloon, which takes 4:30 to 5:20 a.m. in the air to get from one city to another. But according to the company, the time is comparable to the time required to reach the airport at the required speed.
In contrast, HAV generates more than 10 times smaller carbon footprint. While the jet’s CO2 emissions are around 53 kilograms per passenger, the airline’s airship is only 4.5 kilograms. “The plane is ideal for travel applications between cities like Liverpool to Belfast and from Seattle to Vancouver, which Airlander can serve with a fraction of the emissions from current air options,” the company says.
Tom Grande, HAV CEO, likens the airship to a “fast ferry.” “This is not a luxury product, it is a practical solution to the challenges posed by the climate crisis,” he said. According to Grandi, 47% of regional jet trips connect cities less than 370 kilometers away.
Even in such a small area, carbon dioxide emissions are significant. “We have planes that are designed to cover very long distances and travel very short distances, when in fact there is a better solution. How long can we expect to have the luxury of traveling over these short distances with such a large carbon footprint?”
Tom Grande added that HAV may reduce carbon emissions in the future, as it hopes to have all-electric airships. The company is currently negotiating with airlines to operate routes and is expected to announce partnerships in the coming months. So far, the startup has signed an agreement to deliver a plane to Swedish company OceanSky Cruises.
Aerial vehicles must be produced in the UK and the company wants to employ around 500 people, who are directly involved in building the airships, in addition to providing 1,500 other secondary jobs. Currently, 70 people work for HAV. The company aims to manufacture 12 aircraft annually starting in 2025.
The Airlander 10 prototype cost £ 25 million and made six test flights. Some did not go well, such as the second flight, in 2016, in which the airship crashed after a successful first flight of 30 minutes. According to HAV, the damage occurred on landing. The airship is capable of taking off and landing from any flat surface, with a height of 2100 meters and a speed of 91 km / h.
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