Get Ready for Zero Emission Helium Flights

The Airlander 10, a blimp-like aircraft using helium gas and hybrid engines, will be ready to fly in the next few years. Hybrid Air Vehicles announced a partnership with Air Nostrum, a regional airline in Spain, to launch the ship into commercial service. The airline has ordered 10, which will be ready in 2026. From the look of the designs, it will be a comfortable and beautiful way to travel. 

The aircrafts hold up to 100 passengers and travel at 80 miles per hour. It may not be able to compete with airplanes in expediency, but it boasts significantly lower carbon emissions and comparable times to train travel. The first hybrid aircrafts will have only produce 10% of the carbon compared to planes used today. The company expects to conduct the first large-scale zero emissions flight by 2030. The Hybrid Air Vehicles press release, which we saw on DesignTAXI, highlights that many countries have these goals in mind and that helium aircraft are part of the solution. 

Comparison of air vehicle travel time and carbon produced
Hybrid Air Vehicles

The range for passenger flights will be about 450 miles, or roughly the distance from Boston to Washington, D.C. The company’s website lists other uses for the aircraft, including surveillance. The airships don’t require a runway or hangar, just a small flat area for landing.

In case you picture the explosive Hindenburg when you think of blimps and other airships, that disaster involved hydrogen gas. Helium gas does not catch fire and has been used safely in craft like the Goodyear blimp for many years.

White air vehicle with Air Nostrum flying over a coastline
Hybrid Air Vehicles

These commercial flights are a step into the future. Whether or not there will be Amazon blimps or anything like those in Blade Runner remains to be seen.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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