The Airlander emerged safely from its hangar on Friday, April 7 and is currently sitting on Cardington Airfield as it prepares for the full flight test program. Airlander successfully completed its final validation and verification four-engine test on Tuesday, April 4, which means it is now flight-ready. A number of additional confirmatory tests will be undertaken outside, after which the Airlander will fly under permissions granted by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the UK CAA.
During the last seven months, the team at Hybrid Air Vehicles have repaired the damage to the front of the aircraft caused by its heavy landing on August 24, 2016. In addition, a series of improvements and modifications have been implemented. These include new “landing feet” called the Auxiliary Landing System (ALS) and a new Mobile Mooring Mast. The ALS will deploy on final approach and will help protect the cockpit. Airlander also now has the ability to easily recover the mooring line. Significant training and testing has also been completed.
As CW reported last year, the Airlander 10 has no internal structure; pressurized helium inside the craft causes the Vectran (Kuraray, Tokyo, Japan) skin to maintain its shape. Carbon fiber composites are used in structural applications to help minimize the weight of the craft. The Airlander 10 can stay aloft for up to five days at a time in an unmanned configuration. It can remain aloft up to days at a time with passengers aboard.
The full flight test program will take a number of months and is split into three phases, each with the Airlander increasing its flight “envelope” by incrementally increasing its range and duration, the complexity of flight maneuver, its speed and altitude and its payload.
Hybrid Air Vehicles is in the final stages of an equity financing raise from its existing shareholders. Nearly £5 million has been secured already and approximately £1 million remains available.
"With our next flight just round the corner, this opens a new chapter in aviation history. An aircraft that flies in an entirely new way and which can do so many useful things is about to be a regular sight over the UK. I think we'll amaze people,” says HAV's CEO Stephen McGlennan.
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