Our appetite for air travel is not sustainable – not in its current jet-fuel consuming form, anyway. Fortunately, the solution to the future of flight lies in the past. Yes, blimps are back! We’re not blowing hot air here – more precisely, helium.
British company Hybrid Air Vehicles (part backed by high-flying Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson) has developed the Airlander 10. Carrying 100 passengers, it travels at 80mph. So it won’t get you where you’re going particularly quickly, but flying at a maximum of 20,000 feet, the view will be lovely. And it can stay aloft for five days so you’ll really get to enjoy the scenery.
The airships emit 75 per cent fewer greenhouse gases than their aeroplane equivalents, with plans for them to become fully electric powered within the decade. This gives them the advantage over planes, which require thrust to take off that battery power can’t currently provide.
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Soon it could become routine to take airships on short-haul routes. Last month, Air Nostrum bought 10 Airlanders at a cost of £496 million, announcing plans to have their fleet flying by 2026 on regional routes in Spain, such as Barcelona to Mallorca. The orders will be manufactured in Yorkshire, starting this year.
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