This airship Airlander, the longest aircraft in the world at roughly 91m (300ft), from the US military airship Airlander project, has been brought to Cardington, Bedfordshire, England (home of the R101) for further development by a British company who built it in the first place. In fact the development is taking place in the same hanger used by the R101. Military budget cuts in the US have allowed the Americans to sell it back to the manufacturer – Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV).
Below you can see it take off when it belonged to the United States Army:
The company developing it has now received £2.5m of government funding to develop the technology and engineering for the project.
This airship Airlander as a whole is not lighter than air even though it is filled with helium gas. The helium gives it sufficient buoyancy to fly, like an aeroplane wing, when propelled forward.
It can take a payload between 1225kg and 5tonnes according to the length of the flight. I presume the payload is balanced against fuel.
More information on this airship Airlander can be obtained from the BBC below:
- The world’s longest aircraft in the making.
- World’s longest aircraft is unveiled in UK.
- Cranfield airship firm bids to buy back US Army craft.
- Cranfield firm’s ‘breakthrough’ for English airships.
Also from the International Business Times below:
The Project Has An Investor
Bruce Dickinson, the investor behind this venture, says, “We’ll fly over the Amazon at 20ft, over some of the world’s greatest cities and stream the whole thing on the internet.”
Well I think he should rethink this height. He might fly at that height on a nice calm day for a short distance where the Amazon is wide, but otherwise I don’t think that height will give enough clearance to manoeuvre an aircraft of this bulk. If a downdraft catches it, caused by near ground turbulence, there will be a delay in any response from the crew or from an automatic pilot. I’m sure he could hit the deck. Also trees in the Amazon jungle are very tall so he would need to fly well above them. He could suddenly meet a tree in front that is 20ft taller than the rest he just flew over.
The company HAV have run a competition to win two seats on their first passenger flight over southern England in 2016. You can visit their website at Airlander where you can also see more videos.
Airship Airlander Update
On 06/08/2016 Martha Gwyn (otherwise known as an Airlander 10) came out of it’s hanger at Cardington. It made a 30 minute journey to its new resting place – the Primary Mast site – where it can be anchored in the open air. Read more about it in The Telegraph, and even more in Bedfordshire on Sunday.
See my other Airlander post Airlander Airship v Goodyear Airship.