Beds, Herts & Bucks

Airlander 10: Longest aircraft set to return in 2017

Landing of Airlander Image copyright sbna
Image caption Airlander 10 is understood to have suffered damage on its return to Cardington Airfield

The developer behind the world's longest aircraft - which crash landed during a test flight - has said it will return to the skies in the new year.

The Airlander 10 was damaged during its second test flight from Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire.

The craft's cockpit was effectively destroyed when the £25m craft hit the ground "heavily", although no-one was injured.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said the repair programme was "on schedule".

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The crash happened after the vehicle had just completed its planned 100-minute flight on 24 August.

It nosedived as it came in to land.

A spokesman for HAV said: "Over the past two months the team has been conducting a rigorous investigation into events that led to the heavy landing.

"These events are now well understood.

"The Airlander is being repaired and is on schedule to fly again in the early part of 2017."

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption The Airlander 10 is being repaired at its base in Bedfordshire
Image copyright sbna
Image caption The £25m aircraft sustained damage to its cockpit when it crash landed

Christened the Martha Gwyn, the aircraft was first developed for the US government as a surveillance aircraft but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks.

HAV launched a campaign to return the Airlander 10 to the skies in May 2015. It claims it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

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

The company hopes to be building 10 Airlanders a year by 2021.

Airlander 10 in numbers

  • 44,100lbs (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

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The pilots walked away from the "heavy landing" unscathed

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