Airlander 10 prepares for latest test flight programme

image copyrightSBNA
image captionAirlander 10 is undergoing stringent tests ahead of an upcoming flight

Engineers have been carrying out tests on the world's longest aircraft ahead of a scheduled test flight in the coming days.

Airlander 10 - a combination of a plane and an airship - has emerged from its hangar at Cardington, Bedfordshire after a series of upgrades.

A spokesman said the tests would help "push the boundaries" before taking to the skies.

The aircraft has had three successful test flights in the last year.

This next stage will be phase two of a test flight programme before customer trials formally begin.

image copyrightHybrid Air Vehicles
image captionAirlander 10 emerges from Hangar 1 at Cardington

The firm behind Airlander 10 - Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) - announced in September that engineers and office-based staff would be relocating from the Bedfordshire site next month.

The company will move out of Hangar 1, although Airlander 10 itself will remain on Cardington airfield for the foreseeable future.

Faster and higher

Spokesman Chris Daniels said this week's tests would ensure the aircraft would soon be able to travel faster, higher and cover longer distances in the air.

"It's a real milestone for the Airlander," he said, "to have finished the upgrades ready for phase 2 of our test flight programme.

"This is an exciting time for us as we go higher, faster and further than we've been before. Crucially, we can start customer trials and demonstrations during this phase.

"We will be testing the engines outside in the next day or so and will be flying again very soon after that."

Airlander 10 has carried out two successful flights since the £25m aircraft nosedived on 24 August 2016.

No-one was injured in the accident, but the cockpit was effectively destroyed.

image copyrightSBNA
image captionEngineers have been installing 'fairings' to make Airlander 10 more aerodynamic in flight

The aircraft, which is the length of a football pitch, was given a pair of "giant inflatable landing feet" as part of a package of improvements following the crash.

The accident was due to the Airlander climbing to an excessive height because its mooring line caught on power cables, an Air Accidents Investigation Branch report found.

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