And these squishy feet form a central part of the aircraft’s appeal. It doesn’t require a runway to take off but just a relatively flat, circular airfield: land or water. Ergo, no more airports. And because it moves at far slower speeds than planes (a top speed of 100 mph compared to an average jet speed of 310 mph), the security protocols will be more like boarding a ferry or train.
“We’re working with Air Nostrum to create a network of city-to-city connections, much faster than a car, with 10 per cent of the carbon footprint of a flight, and affordable to the customer,” says Tom Grundy, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles. The Airlander will have a maximum capacity of 100 passengers; a typical Boeing 737-800 carries 189.
That’s all very well, you might think. But 100 mph isn’t very fast. While it is true that the Airlander is closer in speed to a car than a plane, when you remove airport congestion and factor in quicker boarding times, the overall journey time will be comparable to a short-haul flight, Grundy says.