Airlander 10, the world's largest aircraft, performed its sixth test flight early this Friday morning. What made the occasion special was the fact that it was the first in a second phase of test flights, that will see the aircraft going higher, faster and farther than ever before.

Developed by Britain's Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), Airlander 10 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. Additionally, it can carry payloads of up to 10,000 kg (22,050 lb), stay in the air for five days at a time with a crew, and doesn't require a purpose-built runway.

In the new round of test flights, known as Airworthiness Release 2a (AWR2a), the aircraft will be permitted to fly as high as 7,000 ft (2,134 m), as fast as 50 knots (58 mph, 93 km/h), and to travel a distance of up to 75 nautical miles (86 miles, 139 km) from its airfield. It will also now be allowed to undertake display and demonstration activity.

In preparation for travelling at the higher speeds, a drag-reducing fairing has been installed between the cockpit and the underside of the hull.

"We're thrilled to have commenced the next round of testing; our world class team have really done well and we can't wait to showcase Airlander across the UK in coming months," says HAV CEO Steve McGlennan.

Source: Hybrid Air Vehicles