Airlander completes second test flight of 2017

Composites-intensive cargo and passenger craft continues testing ahead of entry into service.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd. (Shortstown, Bedford, UK) reports that its Airlander 10 aircraft completed its second 2017 test flight on June 13, 2017.  “It was great to be airborne again and we enjoyed a really successful test flight. We gathered a lot of data during the flight which helps us to optimise and define the performance of this magnificent aircraft,” says Dave Burns, chief test pilot

These capabilities include unprecedented endurance of up to five days manned, carrying up to 10 tonnes of payload. The company says this will transform military surveillance, coast guard and border control and is increasingly finding other applications in telecommunications, geo-survey, geo-intelligence and home security. 

Airlander 10 was taken off its mooring mast at 6:10 pm and took off at 6:12 pm. It flew for a total of 3 hrs 23 minutes before landing at 9:25 pm and was secured safely on the mast at 9:33 pm.

The test objectives revolved around further expanding the flight envelope and further testing of the flight characteristics. The craft reached 3,700 ft altitude and 37 knots speed and these are close to the maximum limits at which the craft will travel during initial test flights. This envelope is expected to expand significantly in a few flights once the basic handling has been fully tested.

The next few flights will be scheduled one or more weeks apart in order to give time for a full analysis of the data collected on each flight, and plan, prepare and train for the next flight.

Airlanders are low-noise, low-pollution and environmentally friendly. They have ultralong endurance, and a point-to-point cargo-carrying capacity. They can take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water,or open field environments. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded the UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project. In addition the company has carried out two crowdfunding rounds and has more than 2,000 shareholders.

The Airlander project was selected for funding through a dedicated SME Instrument of Horizon 2020, which the European Commission uses to invest in and support high growth and highly innovative small businesses. The technology is also fully in line with activities under the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport Societal Challenge of Horizon 2020, which aims to boost the competitiveness of the European transport industries and achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate-and-environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society.

Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfill a range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo-carrying and tourist passenger flights.