Its further development now primarily funded by Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, will the HAV304 Hybrid Air Vehicle soon be making rock concerts at 35,000 feet a reality?
By Ringo Bones
Ever since its development for military applications was ditched by the US Department of Defense due to recent budget cuts, the HAV304 Hybrid Air Vehicle was eventually sold back to the British firm who originally developed it and sold it to the US DoD a decade ago. Now largely funded by the iconic heavy metal music band Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, will the HAV304 Hybrid Air Vehicle eventually find other useful applications in the world of civil aviation?
At 300 feet in length, the HAV304 Hybrid Air Vehicle is currently the world’s largest aircraft. By comparison, the Antonov An-225 – the previous record holder as the world’s largest aircraft - is “only” 276 feet long while the current largest passenger plane – the Airbus A380 – is “only” 239.5 feet long. Airline pilot and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson got interested in the HAV304 primarily due to its 50-ton cargo capacity and its ability to fly for weeks at a tie while using only a third of the fuel of a typical turbofan jet powered long-haul wide-bodied jet aircraft. Given the payload and range and low fuel consumption, the HAV304 Hybrid Air Vehicle could revolutionize how relief supplies would be carried disaster zones.
Though primarily inflated with the inert gas helium to hold its shape, the HAV304 is still too heavy to float on its own without engine power like the Zeppelin type airships of the past. And given that he is now the main funder of the further development of the HAV304, Bruce Dickinson plans to test flight the craft from pole to pole either as a scientific vehicle or as a tourism platform that can also fly 20 feet above the treetop canopy of the Amazon Rain Forest. And probably even as a flying concert hall capable of performing heavy metal music concerts 35,000 feet above the ground.