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Sunday 21 January 2018

World's largest aircraft to return to the skies after botched test flight

The Airlander 10, pictured during its maiden flight from Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire, has been nicknamed
The Airlander 10, pictured during its maiden flight from Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire, has been nicknamed "the flying bum"
Airlander 10 Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Jack Hardy

The world's largest aircraft is fit to return to the skies now damage from a botched test flight last summer has been repaired, its manufacturer says.

Airlander 10, which is part plane, part airship, nosedived to earth in August when it was forced into a sudden landing to avoid a stray rope snagging on trees.

Developer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said the €28.8m aircraft was "structurally complete" from repair work following the crash and would soon be ready to resume test flights.

A new landing system, which will allow it to return to ground from a greater range of attitudes, is among a host of changes installed on the Airlander.

Further test flight mishap should be averted by a redesign which allows easier recovery of the mooring line, which was hanging loose during the doomed second voyage.

Extensive tests on the Airlander are under way ahead of its next attempted take-off, the manufacturer says.

HAV said in a statement: "The Airlander team are pleased to announce that the structural damage sustained to the flight deck during its second test flight last August has now been repaired.

"Following this successful repair of the flight deck structure, Airlander is now structurally complete ahead of hangar exit and resuming the flight test programme."

First developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft, HAV launched a campaign to return the Airlander 10 to the sky after it fell foul of defence cutbacks.

The aircraft, so named because it can carry 10 tonnes, is the length of a football pitch at 302ft (92 metres), the height of six double-decker buses at 85ft (26 metres) and can travel at 92mph.

Airlander 10 Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Airlander 10 Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

It is about 50ft (15 metres) longer than the biggest passenger jets and uses helium to become airborne.

The two large bulges which give the aircraft its distinctive shape has led to it being dubbed "the flying bum".

HAV says it will be able to stay airborne for about five days during manned flights.

It is hoped it will be used for a variety of functions, such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel

HAV operations director Tom Grundy said: "Over this period the whole focus of the team has been to improve the way we work and the way we operate the aircraft so that our next stage of flying achieves all of our objectives.

"Our work in this has been guided by our investigations, which were conducted and reviewed in line with the exhaustive standards that are the norm across the aerospace industry."

Press Association

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