Airlander 10 due to make its first flight across Britain
Introducing the Airlander 10, a 302ft long cross between an aeroplane, helicopter and airship creation owner by Hybrid Air Machines. The final assembly of the hybrid machine has been taking place in the hands of Hybrid Air Machines, who designed, built and owns the footprint. The aerodynamic design provides over 40% of the aircraft’s lift, and the remaining 60% aerostatical, but being lighter-than-air - the inside of the “balloon” is filled with helium. At approximately 143ft wide, 85ft high and 302ft long it is one huge aircraft! The craft was originally developed as part of a US Army project, but was unfortunately scrapped at a later date. It is now being converted to provide business and leisure flights in a hangar in Cardington, in Bedfordshire.
The vessel had a test run in October 2015, where it was filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium, which is enough to fill approximately fifteen Olympic sized swimming pools. This test included the craft successfully hovering just outside of the hangar in which it has been developed. This involved the use of four fork-lift trucks, each with a two-tonne block of cement to prevent the machinery being carried away! Now, in the latest run up to the official first flight scheduled later this month, the engines and fins are being added as finishing touches, allowing directional control. The engines can rotate, which provide an additional 25% thrust, therefore the Airliner can hover as well as land on almost any surface - including ice, water and on sand in the desert.
Mike Durham, Hybrid Air Vehicles' technical director, said: "We're hugely excited about the forthcoming Airlander first flight this year.” The company also bought the rights to develop the Airliner for commercial use, including use as a passenger aircraft that will carry up to 48 people at one time. They hope to also branch out to use the vessel for coastguard duties, surveillance, filming and academic research, and finally moving into a over-night sleeper service for business customers to travel between major cities. The backing of the multi-million pound project has been invested in by a number of aviation enthusiasts and pilots, including the Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson and Carol Vorderman.