The maker of the world’s largest aircraft is looking to get off the ground with a crowdfunding campaign.
Hybrid Air Vehicles is working to make the Airlander 10 really take off.
The aircraft looks like a giant flying ball and is part plane, balloon and hovercraft.
The firm has secured a £3.4 million government grant aimed at building more planes and wants crowdfunders to stump up another £2 million from a pitch on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.
So far almost £750,000 of the target has already been pledged by 281 investors.
The offer is wrapped as a tax-effective Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), giving investors 30% income tax relief on the cash they stake for equity in the company.
The high-flying company is based in Bedford, historically the home of the British air balloon industry.
Rock star backing
Besides winning backing from the government, other cash has come from the US military and even rock group Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, who is a qualified pilot.
“I have put up £350,000 for this project because I believe in it. If you have a dream, making it fly is where to go next,” he said.
Hybrid Air Vehicles has big plans for the huge aircraft.
The plane is a commercial heavy lifter that can move massive amounts of equipment around cheaply and efficiently.
The firm wants an order list of hundreds of aircraft and hopes the crowdfunding pitch will give the project a lift with money and publicity.
“Winning the funding has made all the difference to our business,” said the company’s chief executive Stephen McGlennan.
Back in the air
“Government backing is important and shows that we have had the design and business closely scrutinised by independent experts. The next step is to prove we have a viable project to investors and to get the plane out into the commercial market place.”
Although the Airlander 10 only flies at 100 mph, the makers claim the balloon-like structure can stay in the air for weeks at a time, is much quieter than a traditional jet and consumes around a fifth of the fuel.
The project was formerly under the wing of the US military, but was dropped due to spending cuts. Hybrid Air Vehicles bought the prototype, shipped it to Europe and now want to get back into the air.
At 302 feet long, the Airlander 10 is around 60 feet larger than the biggest airliners, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8.
The company has also won a £1.75 million grant from the European Union to aid with the cost of developing safety regulations to govern this type of aircraft.