By Marisa Garcia
July 20, 2018
Credit: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles and DesignQ

For fans of flight who are tired of the rush and crunch, the prospect of a leisurely luxury expedition could be welcome news.

In the early years of aviation, planes weren’t the only way to fly. Passengers could also enjoy slow flying in a blimp that offered an experience closer to a train, with plenty of room to relax and restaurant-style dining.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited, the company behind the Airlander 10 — the eco-friendly dirigible with the funny backside — wants to bring the old-style slow-flight experience back.

Credit: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles and DesignQ

At this year’s Farnborough Air Show they revealed a very modern and luxurious twist on this classic journey, which they hope will herald a new era of “expeditionary tourism.”

Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited worked with design consultancy DesignQ on what would be an unparalleled sightseeing cruise on the world’s largest aircraft. Amazing views in every direction are the main attraction.

The private guest bedrooms, each with a full-sized bed, would also have an en-suite bath and offer breath-taking views from the window wall.

Credit: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles and DesignQ

The Infinity Lounge lets passengers enjoy horizon-to-horizon views including a ‘view pool’ under the lounge seats, with a unique opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

At the Altitude Bar guests could enjoy drinks and fine dining with panoramic views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

There’s plenty of room for all of this because the Airlander cabin is over 150 feet long — longer than the longest 737. It is also wider than an average narrow-body airplane.

Credit: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles and DesignQ

Stephen McGlennan, CEO of HAV, wants the Airlander 10 hybrid airship to redefine air travel, something closer to a river cruise above the clouds.

“Airlander challenges people to rethink the skies – that’s the driving force behind everything we do,” he 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.”

The best part might be avoiding the airport hassle. The Airlander 10 can take off and land on almost any flat area, which would allow expeditions to remote places that aren’t accessible with other forms of transport. And this zeppelin travels at maximum speeds of 100 miles an hour, so there is plenty of time get a good photograph or video of the sights as they go by. The average expedition would be three days long, and could go practically anywhere around the world.

DesignQ worked with Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited on the cabin design over the past year, including on the engineering specifications and regulations required.

“We love doing different things,” Design Q’s CEO Howard Guy said. “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.”

Credit: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles and DesignQ

The Airlander program, which includes two blimps, the Airlander 10 and Airlander 50, has been in development and testing since 2016. After a successful first flight last year, the Airlander 10 ran into a hiccup and had what must hold the record for the slowest crash landing in aviation history. The aircraft detached from its moorings and suffered around $40 million in damages. But, thankfully, nobody was hurt and there was plenty of time to prepare for an evacuation.

The company is confident that Airlander 10 will offer safe, enjoyable, and environmentally friendly tourism going forward, with a little bit of back.