Helium-filled passenger airships made by a venture backed by Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson will soon be sailing Spanish skies.
Air Nostrum, a regional partner carrier for Iberia, has signed an agreement with the UK's Hybrid Air Vehicles to be the launch airline for its Airlander 10 aircraft, the company said in a statement. The Spanish firm has reserved 10 100-seat versions of the craft and aims to have them in service from 2026.
"The Airlander 10 will drastically lower emissions," Air Nostrum Chairman Carlos Bertomeu said. "We are exploring all ways available to reduce our carbon footprint."
After falling out of favour following the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, airships for use in commercial aviation could make a comeback as part of the quest for a cleaner means of long-distance travel than conventional aircraft.
The Airlander 10 is hybrid aircraft combining the helium-filled hull of airships with technology from aircraft and helicopters. Hybrid Air Vehicles is also working on an all-electric model that could be in service by 2030, according to the company.
Dickinson, the singer with the British heavy metal band, was an early backer of the firm.
The airships are much slower than planes, flying at a maximum of 130 kilometres per hour.
"Countries such as France, Denmark, Norway, Spain and the UK are setting ambitious mandates to decarbonise national and short-haul flights," Hybrid Air Vehicles General Manager Tom Grundy said. "Airlander is designed to deliver a better future for sustainable aviation services."
Air Nostrum operates as a regional franchise for Iberia, part of the International Consolidated Airlines Group stable of airlines.
The Washington Post