Maiden flight for world's largest aircraft

8 pictures

The world's largest aircraft, the AIrlander 10, has made its maiden flight in the UK(Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles)

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The world's largest aircraft has taken to the skies for the first time in its new guise as the Airlander 10. On Wednesday afternoon local time, the airship from Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) made its short maiden voyage at a UK airfield, after a technical issue grounded a previous attempt on Sunday.

Measuring 92 x 43.5 x 26 m (302 x 143 x 85 ft), the Airlander 10 is an imposing bird, with the ability to carry payloads of up to 10,000 kg (22,050 lb) and stay in the air for five days at a time with a crew, or up to two weeks unmanned. The hybrid aircraft is powered by four 325-hp (242-kW), turbocharged diesel engines and uses aerodynamic lift like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft to take off, with helium keeping it aloft once it's in the air.

The public got its first glimpse as the airship rolled out of the hangar on August 6, ahead of a series of ground tests before it was given the all-clear for take-off. On August 17, the Airlander 10 took off from Cardington Airfield, about 73 km (45 mi) north of London, and made a circuit around the area before touching down again just half an hour later.

Although short, HAV explained via Twitter that the flight was intended to prove the concept, and that the flight tests are currently restricted to daylight hours so the craft needed to be back on the ground before dark.

Airlander 10 originally began life as the HAV 304 in the US Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program and was intended as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support craft for ground troops. Built by HAV and Northrop Grumman, it flew for the first time in August 2012, but the project was canceled in 2013 due to cost concerns. HAV repurchased the aircraft and transported it to the UK, where it was rebuilt as the Airlander 10 with the design adapted for communication, cargo transport and surveying in the military and commercial sectors.

The video below shows the Airlander 10's maiden flight, along with video of it rolling out of the hangar on August 6.

View gallery - 8 images

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