Airlander 10, an airship which is currently the world’s largest aircraft, completed its first flight on August 17. It took off from the historic Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England, at approximately 19:45 local time on Wednesday August 17th and, as sunset approached, landed at 20:00. Its manufacturer, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), said: “All objectives of the planned flight were accomplished.”
The Airlander has no internal structure and keeps it shape thanks to the pressure of the Helium gas used to provide its lighter-than-air characteristics. Vectored thrust is provided by four low-noise engines.
HAV says it has used innovative technology to combine the best characteristics of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter than air technology to create what it describes as a “new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft.” HAV claims it will fulfil a wide range of communication, cargo carrying and survey roles in both the military and commercial sectors.
Airlander 10 has ultra-long endurance capabilities and can stay airborne for five days at a time if manned and two weeks unmanned. It is designed to have point-to-point delivery capability, enabling it to take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments.
Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns said, “It was privilege to fly the Airlander for the first time and it flew wonderfully. I’m really excited about getting it airborne. It flew like a dream.”
The flight test programme is expected to take two months to complete and will be followed by a series of demonstration exercises for potential customer.
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