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Airlander 10 gets updated to prevent further accidents

07 March 2017

The Airlander team have added an Auxiliary Landing System and implemented ground support equipment improvements to the Airlander 10.

Crew in training (Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles)

The key visible change is that the Airlander now has an Auxiliary Landing System (ALS) which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously. This has been fitted forward of the main landing gear (skids) and, like its main landing gear, is a pressurised air cushion which contacts the ground during a landing. In addition, the team have made a series of improvements to the ground systems to reduce the chance of an equipment failure such as the problem with the mooring mast winch that triggered the incident in August last year. The team also modified the aircraft to make sure that if the mooring line were ever to hang down from the aircraft again, as it did that day, it can be recovered so that it does not interfere with the approach and landing of the aircraft.

The team extensively analysed and reviewed the telemetry data, and video/audio (both on-board and from the ground), which has allowed them to understand how the aircraft performed in great detail. They fed the results of that work back into the simulator, which has allowed much more realistic training in normal and emergency conditions for the flight crew, which will help them to manage a wider range of potential scenarios than was previously the case. This will help the crew if they are again called upon to respond to unexpected events such as last August’s unplanned steep approach to the airfield, which was caused by the mooring line hanging down underneath it.

A rigorous testing and training program has now commenced to prepare for Airlander taking to the skies again. “Over this period the whole focus of the team has been to improve the way we work and the way we operate the aircraft so that our next stage of flying achieves all of our objectives. Our work in this has been guided by our investigations, which were conducted and reviewed in line with the exhaustive standards that are the norm across the aerospace industry,” says Tom Grundy, Operations Director.

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