Every few years we hear about something being bigger, faster, crazier, and the Airlander 10 is no exception to this. Clocking into the world of aviation as the world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10 is preparing to take its first test flight in the UK in just a few weeks time.
It’s no normal craft either. It generates its lift aerostatically since it’s filled with Helium, but also aerodynamically thanks to its wing-like shape. It’s a hybrid of a lot of technologies overall, blending plane, helicopter and airship into one and that all plays no small part in allowing it to be as big as it is.
Created by Hybrid Air Vehicles in Bedford, UK, the Airlander 10 is expected to be deployed for use in leisure cruises, airborne research and cargo transport due to its less demanding landing and take-off abilities. It’s capable of carrying up to 10-tons, or fitted to carry 48 passengers for a very impressive five days at a cruising speed of around 80 Knots (92mph); there’s also a 50-ton version in the planning stages.
“It’s not an airship. It’s a mix between an aeroplane, an airship with a bit of helicopter thrown in. It uses the latest materials, it’s got the latest fly-by-night technology, avionics and computer software. It’s very much an aircraft for the 21st century.” said company spokesman Chris Daniels.
Obviously, it remains to be tested and it’s questionable how much demand there will be for such a craft, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Would you take a trip on an air-cruise aboard something like this, or do you prefer the speedy alternative of a jet to fly you to your next holiday destination?
“We are not talking about a mass market products here. We’re talking about something highly specialist. It will be very useful for those who need it. But the number of companies and organizations that are going to need something as specialist as this is not large in number.” added Aviation Expert David Learmount.