Beds, Herts & Bucks

Airlander 10: Longest aircraft repair estimate revealed

Landing of Airlander Image copyright sbna
Image caption Airlander 10 was damaged on its return to Cardington Airfield

The world's longest aircraft will take about three to four months to repair and test after a "heavy landing" on a test flight, it has been revealed.

The £25m Airlander 10, which is 302ft (92m) long, "nosedived" during its second test flight in Bedfordshire.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said repairs were confined to the hull and the forward part of the cockpit.

But specialist tools needed for some of the repairs were not acquired from the US Army and needed replacing.

Image copyright sbna
Image caption The hull and the forward part of the cockpit sustained damage

The aircraft was first developed for the US government as a surveillance aircraft but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks.

British firm HAV launched a campaign to return it to the skies in May 2015.

It made a successful maiden flight last month from Cardington Airfield but was damaged on landing during its second flight on 24 August.

'Demonstrates robustness'

Chief Executive Steve McGlennan said the hull repairs would take about three or four days to complete but tools required for some cockpit repairs were not acquired from the US Army at the end of its multi-intelligence vehicle programme and their replacement "contributes significantly to the estimated overall time required".

"There are however no substantial repairs necessary to the other areas and systems of the aircraft which remain operational," he said.

Mr McGlennan said the three to four month estimate also included a "disciplined and thorough" investigation into the heavy landing and it was "already clear" there were steps that could be taken to "improve" procedures.

He added that despite the heavy landing, HAV was "very pleased by the capability the Airlander had shown in initial flight tests" and was "encouraged" both prospective customers and new investors were continuing discussions with the company.

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption British firm HAV launched a campaign to return it to the skies in May 2015

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