Aircraft

Airlander 10: World's largest aircraft gets back in the air

The Airlander 10 takes to the skies once again 
The Airlander 10 takes to the skies once again 
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The Airlander has made its first successful flight since crashing last year
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The Airlander has made its first successful flight since crashing last year
The Airlander spent almost three hours in the air 
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The Airlander spent almost three hours in the air 
The odd-shaped Airlander 10 is the largest aircraft in the world 
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The odd-shaped Airlander 10 is the largest aircraft in the world 
The Airlander 10 takes to the skies once again 
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The Airlander 10 takes to the skies once again 
The Airlander has a new set of inflatable feet 
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The Airlander has a new set of inflatable feet 
After a successful test, the Airlander 10 comes back to base 
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After a successful test, the Airlander 10 comes back to base 
The Airlander 10 debuted a new mooring system 
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The Airlander 10 debuted a new mooring system 
The Airlander successfully landed after around 180 minutes in the air 
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The Airlander successfully landed after around 180 minutes in the air 
The Airlander 10 takes to the skies again 
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The Airlander 10 takes to the skies again 

For the first time since it crashed on its second test flight in August last year, the world's largest aircraft has taken to the air again. Hybrid Air Vehicles put its Airlander 10 (and a new, post-crash landing system) through its paces on a flight that lasted almost three hours and saw the huge airship make it back to base without a hitch.

The aircraft took off from its mooring at Cardington Airfield north of London at 5:28 PM local time, and spent just under 180 minutes in the air before returning to base at 8:15 PM. During the flight, data was collected on handling, airspeed and operation of the crucial on-board systems for a detailed post-mortem.

It's the first time the bulbous airship/airplane hybrid has taken flight since a heavy landing during testing last year. Since then, the team has developed a new Auxiliary Landing System (ALS), which consists of two giant airbags on the underside of the craft either side of the flight deck that the pilot can deploy to protect the cabin and flight deck when landing.

They're stowed away during flight to avoid creating any additional drag, and take around 15 seconds to inflate. Think of them as giant, cushy landing feet designed to stop the cabin touching the ground. A new, more maneuverable mooring system has also been developed since last August, making it easier to dock and secure the aircraft.

After a successful test, the Airlander 10 comes back to base 
After a successful test, the Airlander 10 comes back to base 

Measuring up at 92 m long, 43.5 m wide and 26 m tall (302 x 143 x 85 ft), the Airlander 10 is unlike any other aircraft. Hybrid Air Vehicles says it can carry payloads up to 10,000 kg (22,050 lb) thanks to a helium-filled hull. Power comes from four 325 hp (242 kW) turbocharged diesel engines, and the Airlander takes off using aerodynamic lift like a plane.

"This is a great testament to the tenacity and ingenuity of the team of engineers at Hybrid Air Vehicles, who are continually pushing the boundaries of aviation with this amazing aircraft," says Technical Director, Mike Durham.

With each successful test, the Airlander 10 will be permitted to venture progressively further from base. Eventually, Hybrid Air Systems says it will provide an "ultra-stable, ultra-powerful and ultra-long endurance platform that will be useful in a huge number of roles." The company is also planning to create passenger variants and Airlanders for point-to-point cargo services.

Source: Hybrid Air Vehicles

8 comments
Alien
I like it and wish the team every success but 10,000kg seems rather a small capacity when compared to typical airliners such as the 154 tons for a 747 freighter. So, apart from long endurance aloft what really is the USP for this aircraft?
Nik
Fuel used per kg per mile/Km with a comparison to other conventional heavy carrier aircraft would be enlightening.
JamesDemello
Good point Alien. Perhaps it scales up well. How big does it have to be to carry 154 tons?
Tom Lee Mullins
It would be cool to see that fly over heard on its way to some destination. It would be great if the airships era came again. Perhaps they just needed some newer technology to make them practical again?
Fast Eddie
We should all hope for success, but airships have always been challenging Mother Nature...and I suspect she will win again.
amazed W1
James Demello, if you assume that its lifting ability is related directly to the its volume, then its length needs to be only cube root of 3 times as long, say about 133 m long, and its other dimensions pro rata.
snave
Latest docs (October 2018) show the Registration for the Airlander as `cancelled`. Let's hope it's not another literal White Elephant...
Zipp
It's a cool concept. I'm concerned about the helium use. It's a finite resource and necessary for medical and industrial use. I hope they have a means to minimize waste and leakage.