Taxpayer takes stake in helium airship maker backed by Iron Maiden singer

The taxpayer took a stake in a maker of helium airships backed by the Iron Maiden singer and went viral after it crash-landed during testing.

The government has taken shares in airship maker Hybrid Air Vehicles, as well as a medicinal cannabis company and a company turning carbon dioxide into clothing, the latest data from the British Business Bank (BBB) ​​has revealed.

As part of the £1.1bn Future Fund, the government offered loans to startups which could then be converted into equity, helping to protect fast-growing companies from the pandemic.

The taxpayer took 400 stakes, including in football club Bolton Wanderers and sex party organizer Killing Kittens.

The latest batch of stakes included Hybrid Air Vehicles, a company backed by Iron Maiden leader Bruce Dickinson that creates giant helium-powered airships. The company reportedly received around £900,000 from the Future Fund and recent filings suggest the taxpayer has a 0.7pc stake.

Air Nostrum, a franchisee of British Airways’ holding company IAG, recently placed an order for the purchase of 10 airships, which are slower but more climate-friendly than traditional aircraft.

However, the company had some hiccups in the development of the airships. A prototype crash-landed on its second test flight in 2016 and two people were injured in 2017 when the airship broke free from its moorings. The prototype was retired in 2019 after the company said it gathered enough data to start production.

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