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World’s largest aircraft completes maiden flight

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 19, 2016
Airlander 10 during its first flight. (Hybrid Air Vehicles)
Airlander 10 during its first flight. (Hybrid Air Vehicles)

Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, has successfully completed its first flight.

The aircraft, which at 92m in length is longer than both the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, completed its maiden flight at Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England on Wednesday evening (local time).

The four-engined Airlander 10, with chief test pilot David Burns and test pilot Simon Davies at the controls for the 19-minute flight, climbed to a height of 500ft and reached a maximum speed of 35kt while remaining within a 5nm area of the airfield.

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“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,” Burns said in a statement.

HAV, the company behind the project, said “all test objectives were met during the flight”.

“These included the safe launch, flight and landing of the Airlander 10 and a series of gentle turns at increasing speed. Some technical tests on its hull pressure were also undertaken,” the company said.

HAV said there was strong customer interest in the aircraft, which could be used in search and rescue, communications, cargo and even passenger travel. There are also defence applications.

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The flight test program is expected to last “a number of months” before it is taken on trials and demonstrations with potential customers.

The Airlander 10 has the capacity to carry 10 tonnes of payload and was powered by four 325hp (243kW), four-litre V8 turbocharged diesel engines. It has a cruising speed of 80kt and could reach an maximum altitude of 20,000ft.

Its helium filled, laminated fabric construction hull provides about 40 per cent of its vehicle’s lift.

The project also had the potential to create 400 jobs in the UK, HAV said, as 80 per cent of Airlander’s supply chain was British.

Airlander 10 during its first flight. (Hybrid Air Vehicles)
The aircraft has been dubbed the “Flying Bum”. (Hybrid Air Vehicles)
Airlander 10 during its first flight. (Hybrid Air Vehicles)
Measuring 92m long, the aircraft is Airlander 10 is designed stay airborne for up to five days. (Hydrid Air Vehicles)

Hybrid Air Vehicles posted a video of the first flight on its YouTube channel:

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2 Comments

  • Martin

    says:

    Seems a very large vehicle to carry ‘only’ 10 tonnes of payload? Skycrane can handle similar in a smaller package… though admittedly with more power demand.

    The air flow into those aft ducted propellers wouldn’t appear to be great?

  • Martin

    says:

    ABC News has just reported and shown footage of this airship colliding with the ground in a nose down attitude. It has apparently been damaged but impact didn’t appear to be major.

    Further to my earlier comment, the four ducted propellers look miniscule compared to the size of the airship. Makes me wonder how it would cope with even moderate wind conditions when coming in for a landing or during take-off. Would be worth comparing its available thrust to drag for a nominal airspeed in comparison to past generations of airship, even the smaller ones of more recent years.

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