The Airlander 10 is close to becoming the largest aircraft in the world to take off thanks to a new investment that will finally bring the project to completion. The 92-meter-long aircraft designed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) was initially planned for the US Army to use for military surveillance.
The US army gave up on the project in 2013 due to budget costs and the airship has been grounded ever since. But a recent £3.4 million (US$5.1 million) grant from the UK government to HAV will take the Airlander 10 back into the skies. The investment was enough for HAV to continue developing the aircraft and it should take off by the end of the year.
This time around, the HAV is planning the Airlander both for military and civilian use. Although passenger airships are still quite a delicate subject since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, in which a passenger aircraft caught fire, killing 36 people. However, the technology has greatly improved since then, which might help improve people’s opinions on this kind of air vehicle.
According to Chris Daniels, leader of HAV communications, “the sole problems existing old-style airships had (were) having lots of ground crew, limited ability to carry payloads and to be susceptible to weather conditions. We solved all those problems with a new concept — a hybrid aircraft. So a mix between a wing and an airship.”
The Airlander 10, which received it’s name because it can carry up to 10 tons is made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and Mylar – a strong polyester film resistant to high temperatures.
Not only is it high-tech, the Airlander 10 is also eco-friendly, using near-silent 325 hp V8 engines that use only 20% of the fuel required by existing aircraft. It can also incorporate solar panels and fly in extreme temperatures between -56°C and 54°C without any problems.
The Airlander 10 could have many different applications, from military surveillance to humanitarian missions like taking medicine and food to risky areas.
Source and images: Hybrid Air Vehicles