BOC, the UK and Ireland’s largest supplier of industrial gases, is sponsoring the first flight of the world’s first full sized hybrid aircraft – the Airlander.

BOC, member of Tier One giant the Linde Group, has supplied the helium (He) to HAV in preparation for the Airlander’s first public flight, which is set to take place this spring.

Created by UK-based manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the Airlander is one of the largest and greenest aircraft in the world.

BOC has access to 25% of the world’s commercially available He, and through its £11m ($16m) investment in its He transfill facility in Thame, Oxfordshire in 2007, the industrial gas company now has more cylinders, liquid dewars and bulk tube trailers dedicated to its He business than any other supplier in the UK.

HAV, founded in 2007, has developed the ‘lighter-than-air’ vehicle with two significant aviation needs in mind: Firstly, to stay airborne for weeks at a time to achieve communications, surveillance, search and survey tasks, and secondly, to transport heavy goods and aid point-to-point without the need for expensive airport infrastructure.

Nathan Palmer, BOC’s Director of Bulk and Packaged Gases, said, “We have supplied aerospace customers in the UK for decades and it is fabulous to be working with such an innovative partner like HAV and helping them achieve their vision. This is very much aligned with BOC’s wider ambitions to play a leading role in lower carbon transportation and we look forward to supporting their ambitious plans.”

According to a press release, the Airlander aims to deliver less noise, less pollution and has a lower carbon footprint, longer endurance and better cargo-carrying capacity than other forms of air transportation.