Travel

Rise of the air yacht: This futuristic low carbon airship is about to revolutionise luxury travel

We could soon be exploring the globe in majestic airships, visiting hitherto unreachable destinations in the height of luxury.

So says experiential leisure specialist Cookson Adventures. The travel company has partnered with Hybrid Air Vehicles to charter the Airlander 10 aircraft, the first in a new generation of aircraft that will herald a new era of low carbon travel.

The Airlander 10 is Hybrid Air Vehicles’ first production aircraft, and is scheduled to enter service in 2025. An amalgamation of a variety of aerospace technologies, including airships, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, elevated with superyacht elegance, the Airlander 10 will be able to stay airborne for up to five days at a time, and will have a typical operating altitude of up to 10,000ft. 

Significantly, it can take off and land from virtually any flat surface, and has a unique low carbon footprint.

Buoyed by helium, airship technology requires less fuel to operate than a conventional aircraft, and is ideal for long distance expeditions, as it generates 75 per cent fewer emissions than other fixed-wing aircraft. The roadmap for Airlander 10 includes hybrid-electric and all-electric variants before 2030.

Buoyed by helium, airship technology generates 75 per cent fewer emissions than other fixed-wing aircraft…

Airlander 10 Interior cabin has spectacular views
Stunning aerial views from the comfort of an armchair (Interior rendering: Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd & Design Q) 

“This revolutionary new aircraft will appeal to clients who want to explore deeper into more remote destinations and access locations that are difficult to reach by other modes of transport,” Henry Cookson, Founder and Chairman of Cookson Adventures, told The Luxe Review. “There are no requirements for tarmac or gravel runways, so travel can genuinely operate point to point in comfort. This opens up remote regions that were typically only accessible to the more intrepid traveller.”

The company is predicting a renewed appreciation and demand for slow travel. The aircraft can cruise at 50 knots, or slow to 25 knots, ideal perhaps for photographing wildlife on an aerial safari.

Airlander 10 bar offers a view from above the clouds
The ultimate sky bar (Interior rendering: Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd & Design Q) 

The design of Airlander 10 clearly takes its inspiration from luxury yachts, via Jules Verne, with expansive viewing windows and spacious cabins. “The basic design and amenities will definitely be familiar to those in the yachting world,” Cookson agrees. “Our expert team has extensive experience in designing and hosting exclusive yachting adventures.”  The airship can accommodate up to 16 guests.

Cookson says there’s an opportunity to mix its existing superyacht charter proposition with a nascent airship business. 

“Over the years we’ve organised longer sabbatical style educational family trips to link numerous weeks staying on superyachts in different locations with privatising some of the best lodges, villas, private islands, safari camps or river boats. Our vision for Airlander would be to travel by airship to a remote location where you could combine a week visiting the coast on an expedition superyacht with a week exploring the interior of a destination before returning to your home or gateway airport by airship.”

An Airlander 10 sails over a foggy forest
Airships can take explorers to hitherto unreachable areas.in luxury (Image courtesy Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd)

Cookson says the ability to cruise and land anywhere will open up a whole new world of experiences, taking in deserts, icecaps and open water. 

Depending on the location there will be a requirement for dedicated landing equipment for bordering and tethering the aircraft, but we hope to develop a light touch and environmentally sensitive infrastructure to make the operations as cost effective and flexible as possible. We’re developing a model for clients to charter the aircraft on a private charter basis so huge terminals will not always be required.”

Airlander 10 interior cabin concept has a spectacular view
You’ll need a bed for heights on Airlander 10 (Interior rendering: Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd & Design Q ) 

The company says there’s plenty of potential for adventure; coast to desert itineraries would allow guests to combine diving in marine-rich waters and dune buggy rides, with remote desert camping.

The sheer size of the aircraft is also transformational, says Cookson.  “We’re excited that we will be able to bring a range of assets with us to elevate a desert adventure from Rage buggies, to sandboards and paramotors. The opportunities Airlander 10 will give us to showcase our creativity in designing new luxury experiences is endless. We will be able to explore many of our favourite destinations, from aerial wildlife viewing in remote parts of Africa to exploring some of the more remote polar and desert regions. The applications are wide and varied.”

For more on visit Cookson Adventures online.

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