The 92 meter Airlander 10 was initially designed as a surveillance aircraft for the US Army, but that idea didn’t materialize. Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company that developed the aircraft, has received a 3.4 million pound grant from the UK government to take the blimp off the ground. The plane, which combines a huge helium-filled, aerodynamic blimp with a cargo and passenger unit, can fly for five days at a time and can take off and land from a range of surfaces including water. The aircraft has reached the next stage of development, allowing it to start testing the four diesel engines. “Airlander is an aircraft that can carry very loads long distances and remain airborne for weeks at a time,” said Tom Grundy of Hybrid Air Vehicles.
Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, said, “It will be able to cross the Atlantic and launch things right where they need to be. It can reach about 100mph and stay airborne for about three-and-a-half weeks.” Business secretary, Vince Cable, said, “The growing aerospace sector has the potential to generate thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds to the UK economy in contracts. That is why so much effort is being put in by government and industry to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and build on our strong position as second in the world for aerospace. As part our long-term industrial strategy we are jointly funding £2 billion of research and development into the next generation of quieter, more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly planes. That includes backing projects like HAV’s innovative low-carbon aircraft which can keep us at the cutting edge of new technology. Here is a British company that has the potential to lead the world in its field.”
The aircraft is capable of carrying around 20,000 lbs. of cargo. It is also cheaper to operate than helicopters. It can reach a speed of about 100 mph. The Airlander 10 is longer than the biggest airliner. This incredible aircraft combines the best attributes of an airplane, airship, and a helicopter. The company plans to demonstrate a fully functioning Airlander 10 by 2016. Watch the video below and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.