Wold's Largest Aircraft Takes its First Flight

The world's longest aircraft - The Airlander 10 - has made its maiden voyage from Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire on Wednesday (four days after a previous attempt was abandoned due to technical issues). It was a brief victory lap for the largest aircraft on the planet. The Airlander’s maiden voyage lasted for a half an hour as the jumbo ship — at 302 feet in length, that’s a fifth longer than the longest jet — circled the airfield.

Despite its gluteal countenance, the $40 million Airlander 10 is an impressive bit of aeronautical engineering. The Airlander is designed to incorporate the best parts of an airplane, a helicopter and a dirigible into one machine. It uses less fuel than a cargo plane and does not require much space to lift off.

HAV chief executive officer Stephen McGlennan said the team had been waiting for low winds for the launch but added the airship could "operate very happily" in 80 knots of wind. He said: "Think of a big helicopter, a really giant helicopter. This can do the same thing that a helicopter can do - that's to say, provide air transportation for people and goods without the need for a runway - but this thing can take more over longer distances, it's cheaper and it's greener. "It's a great British innovation. It's a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed wing air craft, it's got helicopter, it's got airship."

Hybrid Air Vehicle says that the airship can stay in the air for five days at a go, if filled with people. Unmanned, it can remain airborne for three times as long. Such long flights are the legacy of dirigibles, which include both zeppelins and blimps. The company hopes to be building 10 Airlanders a year by 2021.Largest Aircraft First FlightLargest Aircraft First FlightLargest Aircraft First FlightLargest Aircraft First FlightSource