Airlander 10, the world’s largest commercial aircraft, completed its first flight on Wednesday.
The hybrid airship took off from the UK’s Cardington Airfield at approximately 1945 on 17 August 2016 for a short 19-minute flight. During this time, Airlander 10’s four engines powered the aircraft on an 8km journey at a height of 152 metres and a maximum speed of 65kph.
The two test pilots said they were happy with the performance of Airlander.
“It was privilege to fly the Airlander for the first time and it flew wonderfully. I’m really excited about getting it airborne. It flew like a dream,” said chief test pilot, Dave Burns.
Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company behind Airlander 10, hopes that the inaugural flight will generate even greater commercial interest in the crowd-funded project. Customer interest is already “strong”, according to the company, due to Airlander’s low carbon footprint and operating costs.
Combining the characteristics of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and airships, Airlanders can travel ultra-long distances, staying airborne for up to five days at a time, and can take off and land from almost anywhere, without the need for airports.
At 92 metres, Airlander 10 is almost 20 metres longer than the Airbus A380. There is an area for cargo and/or passengers, and Hybrid Air Vehicles says the aircraft it would be primarily be used for “communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights”.