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