Here’s how to maintain the world’s largest aircraft
14 August 2017
Technicians recently completed a full hull inspection of Airlander using simple and safe rope access techniques. As expected, no major problems were found.
Airlander got the thumbs up to continue its flight test programme. This was the first time this access process has been used outside on the hull following development inside the hangar. This technique is key to enabling Airlander to demonstrate its ability to be maintained outside, without need for a permanent hangar.
The technicians now benefit from remarkably easy access to all the upper surfaces and systems of the Airlander, using the same ascender system as the team uses for routine engine maintenance and inspection.
Airlander is 26m tall (around the same height as four stacked double decker buses) which means that great care and thought has been put into maintenance techniques. Safety ropes are permanently attached to the hull and technicians undertook rigorous training to ensure the highest safety standards. Access is gained to the hull via power ascenders supplied by ActSafe, one of the leaders in this kind of equipment. Safety is the priority for Airlander and the highest standards are always adhered to.
Ivor Pope, Maintenance, Modification and Ground Operations Manager said “being up on the hull is a fantastic experience – I didn’t want to come down! It was a privilege to be part of the small team that performed the scheduled safety checks. We were pleased to find no major issues, further proving Airlander’s resilience.”