Beds, Herts & Bucks

Airlander 10: World's longest aircraft to get longer

Airlander 10 Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicle
Image caption The whole shape has been changed to "reduce drag, improve efficiency and performance"

A new design of the world's longest aircraft has been revealed - meaning it will be 5% longer.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said "nose to tail" changes to the in-development Airlander 10 included a rounder front and a new tail section.

The new aircraft will be about 320ft (98m) long and the cabin underneath can be built to different lengths.

Tom Grundy, HAV's chief executive officer, said it would also be more fuel-efficient.

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption The landing gear has changed from non-retractable helicopter-type landing skids (right) to six retractable legs

The previous prototype, which was 302ft (92m) long and cost £32m, carried out six successful test flights between 2016 and 2017, before being retired after breaking its moorings and self-deflating in November 2017.

The vehicle that will replace it has yet to go into production, as the company is still trying to find a suitable manufacturing base after moving out of its former home at Cardington Airfield near Bedford in August 2016.

"We learned a lot from maintaining the prototype aircraft - many changes have been made to things like access to improve maintainability and reduce operating costs," a spokeswoman said.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The Airlander 10 protoype collapsed at Cardington Airfield on 18 November 2017

Mr Grundy said: "The design delivers an aircraft suitable for use by a variety of customers while also offering improved fuel efficiency, improved maintainability, and a design ready to accept the technology needed to achieve zero-carbon flight."

It will produce "75% fewer emissions than comparable aircraft", he added.

HAV is currently working with Collins Aerospace and the University of Nottingham to go all-electric.

The company, which is based in Bedford and Kempston, said it was "currently in contract negotiations for the first four production slots, based on signed letters of intent for over 10 aircraft".

It aims to be in production "soon" with a craft back in the skies by 2024, it said.

Image copyright Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption The now retired Airlander 10 took off six times from its former base at Cardington
Image copyright Geograph/Peter Evans
Image caption Cardington is famed for its two 50m-tall hangars, which date from 1915 when the first one was built to house airships

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites