The gargantuan Airlander 10 has taken to the skies once more, after it crashed nine months ago during a test flight.
UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles resumed test flights of its Airlander 10 hybrid airship after making some structural changes to the design, and repairs to the airship’s cockpit and landing gear.
The program suffered a setback last year after the test aircraft took a thoroughly underwhelming nosedive while attempting to land.
Nobody was hurt during the crash, which happened very slowly due to the airship’s lighter than air design.
During this week’s test flight, the Airlander successfully completed a 2.5-hour flight from its base at Cardington field, but UK regulatory restriction prevented it from flying above 1,300m or further than 15 miles from its base.
Hybrid Air Vehicles claims the Airlander 10 can reach altitudes of 6,100 meters and it has a range in excess of 2,000 nautical miles, but a series of test flights must first be completed for it to receive regulatory clearance.
The appeal of Hybrid Airships is potentially huge. They require little fixed ground infrastructure or runways, flight crews are optional, and they burn less fuel than airplanes.
How they navigate through variable weather conditions at low altitudes however, remains to be seen, hence the test flights.
Hybrid Air Vehicles expects to produce ten units annually of the US$32 million, 10-tonne-payload Airlander 10 within the next four years and is also working on a larger Airlander 50, with a payload of 60 tonnes.
The current Airlander 10 can only carry 10 tonnes.
See the video of the test flight on the next page…