The world’s largest aircraft has embarked on its maiden flight, four days after a previous attempt was abandoned due to technical issues.
The Airlander 10+ , part plane, part airship, took to the skies amid cheers and applause from crowds gathered at an airfield in Cardington, central England.
The successful flight comes 85 years after another airship—the ill-fated R101—took off from the same airfield in October 1930 before crashing in France, killing 48 people and effectively ending the development of airships in Britain.
Originally developed for the US army as a surveillance aircraft, the 92-metre-long Airlander 10, also has potential uses in the commercial sector, such as carrying cargo, according to makers Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV).
The Airlander can fly at up to 4,880 metres and reach speeds of 148 kilometres per hour, according to HAV. Filled with helium, it can stay airborne for more than two weeks unmanned and up to five days if manned.
HAV+ CEO Stephen McGlennan said the aircraft was cheaper and greener than helicopter technology. “It’s a great British innovation. It’s a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed wing aircraft, it’s got helicopter, it’s got airship,” he said.
(Feature image source: Reuters)