Imagine floating gently through the clouds on a three-day travel expedition in an airbus that resembles a luxury, super yacht. It sounds a little far-fetched, right? Surprisingly enough, it could soon be a reality for passengers of the Airlander 10.
Since its first test flight in 2016, there has been plenty of buzz surrounding the Airlander 10. The hybrid airship is one of the largest in the world at 302ft long and looks nothing like your regular airliner.
The airbus was originally designed for commercial and military use but Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the UK aerospace company behind the airship, announced that it’s planning to take on passengers by launching “luxury expeditionary tourism”. Passengers will embark on a three-day journey and visit some of the most exciting corners of the globe while travelling in complete luxury. Earlier this week, the company teased photos of what life on board its tourist-focused aircraft would look like.
Designed by award-winning UK firm, Design Q, the passenger cabin will be capable of accommodating up to 19 passengers, plus crew. Speed isn’t its thing (the airbus can only reach max speeds of 91 mph / 146 kph) so expeditions will take up to three days, which is actually part of its appeal. Stephen McGlennan, CEO of HAV, said “air travel has become very much about getting from A to B as quickly as possible. What we’re offering is a way of making the journey a joy.”
Luxury, space and comfort are the main cornerstones of design. Passengers will be treated to their own, private en-suite bedrooms and there’s a communal lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer “horizon-to-horizon” views. There will also be fine-dining catering on board and a plush Altitude Bar for social engagements.
Design Q’s CEO Howard Guy said: “We love doing different things. Our fantastic team of young designers relish the opportunity to do something no one’s done before, to imagine a new concept and then to get into the detailed design of what this space will be.”
The Airlander 10 also has the potential to stay airborne on exceptionally low-cost fuel and it can land and take-off from almost any flat surface – including ice, desert terrain or water – which means that it can access places that are normally out of bounds for regular aircraft.
Despite suffering two incidents, including a crash landing in 2016 at its base in Bedfordshire, the Airlander 10 has already completed six successful test flights. However, it must complete 200 incident-free hours in the sky before it can welcome passengers on board… so it could be a while before you see it pop up on your favourite travel blogger’s Instagram feed.