The Airlander blimp is filled and floated in its hangar
02 November 2015
Airlander, the world’s largest aircraft, reached another milestone with its first helium fill at a Hangar in Cardington, Bedfordshire.
The 92 metre-long Airlander floated within the hangar and was 'walked' its entire 248m length - a task that involved four fork lift trucks, one at each corner of the Airlander, each carrying a 2-tonne block of cement with a restraining rope attached moving in unison.
During the months of November and December, the key parts of the Airlander (the engines, fins and Mission Module) will be finalised and integrated onto the Airlander. From early 2016 a series of ground tests will take place inside and outside the Hangar ready for first flight during the first quarter of 2016.
“Seeing the Airlander come to life and floating was simply breath-taking," says Hybrid Air Vehicle’s (HAV's) technical director, Mike Durham. "This is a key moment for the UK’s aerospace industry in getting this unique aircraft ready for flight.”
HAv describes Airlanders as low noise, low pollution, and environmentally-friendly aircraft. They have ultra-long endurance and a point-to-point cargo-carrying capacity, can take off and land vertically and operate from a range of remote environments, including water, desert, ice and fields.
They are useful for any long endurance tasks such as coastguard duties, military and civil surveillance, filming and academic research. In passenger configuration they are likely to carry 48 passengers in luxury for tourism and pleasure flights, and the Airlander is currently undergoing market testing of an overnight luxury passenger service and a business city-centre to city-centre sleeper service. The craft will carry up to 10 tonnes of cargo, and fly half way round the world on a single tank of fuel.
Airlander has already secured over £60 million of customer funding, more than £6 million of grants and over £12 million of equity funding. Further funding is being raised now ahead of a planned Initial Public Offering on the smaller company’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
Airlander is actively seeking sponsors for the aircraft and continue to see many people joining Airlander Club, which has many benefits including getting their name on the hull in time for first flight.
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