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Hybrid Air Vehicles aims to raise profile of Airlander 10 in China

By Wang Mingjie in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-11-29 01:30

The UK developers of the Airlander 10 hybrid airship, which is the world's largest aircraft, are pitching their supersize creation at the Chinese market to tap increasing demand for passenger and cargo transportation.

The vehicle, which at 92 meters is 15 meters longer than an Airbus 380 superjumbo, made its maiden flight in eastern England this summer. The aircraft, which uses airship, fixed-wing and helicopter technology, can stay airborne for about five days, according to its makers, Hybrid Air Vehicles.

Stephen McGlennan, HAV's chief executive, is heading to China for 10 days, during which time he will give a keynote speech at the leading business school, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. He will also meet representatives from companies in the air, oil and gas, logistics, and tourism sectors.

McGlennan told China Daily: "Airlander is a game-changing large aircraft which will revolutionize aspects of the commercial markets for remote cargo and passenger transportation."

He said it could contribute to China's One Belt, One Road initiative, which is designed to increase global trade and prosperity.

"There is already considerable interest in Airlander from China and the wider Asian region," McGlennan said.

The aircraft combines aerodynamics and lighter-than-air technology to create a hybrid that maintains its shape due to the pressure stabilization of the helium inside the hull. It does not need an airport to take off or land, so is capable of delivering cargo to remote locations.

HAV says it can be used for surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

The Airlander 10 flew for the first time in the UK this year, and will continue its flight test program in 2017. The company spent more than 120 million pounds and nearly 20 years on getting to the current stage, McGlennan said.

His team plans to fly the aircraft to China by the end of next year.

Christopher Bovis, professor of business law at the Business School at the University of Hull, said hybrid aircraft offer innovative transport solutions.

"China is the place and market to test such products and could pioneer the introduction of the Airlander 10 into commercial use within the near future," Bovis said.

McGlennan said he is eager to ensure China gets to see what his aircraft is capable of.

"I want to take this aircraft to China to show the customers there that this is a practical aircraft which can do the job they want doing. I believe they want to see it in action," he said.

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