Measuring in at just over 300ft long, the Airlander 10 is currently the worlds longest aircraft. The part plane, part airship was first created by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles as a surveillance craft for the U.S. Army, but a number of budget cuts left the project in mothballs and the craft sitting in a Bedfordshire hanger.
The Aircraft has now been given a second chance by the UK government who have funded the project with a new £3.4 million grant. This new injection of cash means designers and engineers are now dusting the old girl off and getting her ready for the first flight tests scheduled for later on in the year.
The UK government wants to use the Airlander 10 as a cargo transporter, the ship, previously dubbed HAV304 is up to 20% cheaper than existing aircraft to operate and is capable of carrying around 10 tonnes of cargo for up to five days without landing. The aircraft can also be fitted with solar panels and can operate in extreme weather conditions of up to –56 degrees celsius.
The craft itself is made from a bespoke fabric that consists of carbon fibre, kevlar and mylar and is powered by four 350 hp turbocharged diesel engines, Its unique aerodynamics allows the craft to create lift just like an aeroplane wing, which allows engineers to make the machine heavier than air, removing the need for ground crew to fasten it down.
It’s hoped the that development of the Airlander 10 will lead to the creation of an even larger Airlander 50 craft that would be able to transport 50 tonnes of freight. The company predicts there could be a world market of between 600 and 1,000 of these aircraft, but for now are looking to manufacture around 10 of these crafts a year for the next five years which will create up to 1,800 jobs in Bedfordshire.