Beds, Herts & Bucks

Airlander 10: Longest aircraft gets permission to fly again

Landing of Airlander Image copyright sbna
Image caption The front of Airlander 10 hit the ground on its return to Cardington Airfield

The world's longest aircraft - the £25m Airlander 10 - has been given permission to return to the skies following a crash landing last August.

The 302ft (92m) long aircraft - which is part plane and part airship - was damaged during a flight from Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire.

The flight deck is now back in place after major repairs and testing has begun inside a hangar at the airfield.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has granted the craft permission to fly.

This move follows the UK Civil Aviation Authority's Permit to Fly which was received a week ago.

The developer, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), says the aircraft can be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

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

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption The cockpit was badly damaged in the crash
Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption Engineers have reinstalled the flight controls and tests have begun inside a hangar

The aircraft's cockpit was badly damaged when it nosedived at the end of its second test flight on 24 August.

In a statement, HAV said the European aviation agency had "completed its review" and granted permission for test flights under Air Worthiness Release 1 (AWR1) conditions.

These conditions cover the the initial phase of flight test programmes, which includes some limits on the type of weather test flights can be carried out in.

The company said it hoped to resume flying at some stage in May. It hopes to be building 10 Airlanders a year by 2021.


Airlander 10 in numbers

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption The airship can stay in the same spot for three weeks and can even fly with bullet holes in it
  • 44,100 lbs (20,000kg): The weight of the airship
  • 20,000ft (6,100m): The altitude it can reach
  • 80 knots (148km/h): Maximum speed
  • 5 days: How long it can stay airborne during manned flights
  • 22,050 lbs (10,000kg): Total payload - the weight the ship is able to carry

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