Lonely Planet Writer

World’s largest aircraft leaves hangar for the first time

Last weekend marked a successful first hangar exit for the Airlander 10, the largest aircraft in the world. It left its base at Cardington Airfield in the UK at 4am on Saturday morning.

The Airlander 10 is a hybrid of an aeroplane and an airship, with 40% of the lift from the aerodynamic wing shape of the aircraft, and 60% from the helium fill.
The Airlander 10 is a hybrid of an aeroplane and an airship, with 40% of the lift from the aerodynamic wing shape of the aircraft, and 60% from the helium fill. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

The aircraft was designed by Hybrid Air Vehicles with the intention of creating eco-friendly tourism that will enable passengers to travel in comfort with magnificent views while limiting impact on the environment due to the lower fuel burn of the vessel.

The Airlander 10 left it's hanger at Cardington Airfield for the first time last weekend.
The Airlander 10 left it’s hanger at Cardington Airfield for the first time last weekend. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

The Airlander 10 uses innovative aerospace technology to combine characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter than air technology to create an efficient aircraft that can stay airborne for up to five days at a time if manned and for over two weeks if unmanned.

Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings.
Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

Having left the hangar, the Airlander 10 is now being prepared for a series of ground systems tests before its first flight, which is thought to be in the coming months.

At 302 ft long and 85 ft high, the Airlander 10 is the largest aircraft in the world.
At 302 ft long and 85 ft high, the Airlander 10 is the largest aircraft in the world. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

Due it’s huge size, exiting the hangar was a delicate operation for the aircraft, which had a tight clearance space from the fin tip to the sides of the hangar doors.

A shot of the Airlander 10 in the Cardington Airfield hangar where it was developed.
A shot of the Airlander 10 in the Cardington Airfield hangar where it was developed. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

“It was a very smooth first journey for Airlander and she behaved beautifully. We’re delighted to have reached this significant milestone,” says Technical Director Mike Durham.

The Airlander 10 undergoes a pylon attachment.
The Airlander 10 undergoes a pylon attachment. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

Hybrid Air Vehicles received both UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project. In addition, the company carried out two crowdfunding projects with more than 2000 shareholders.

Hybrid Air Vehicles hope to implement the Airlander aircraft for eco-friendly tourism.
Hybrid Air Vehicles hope to implement the Airlander aircraft for eco-friendly tourism. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

The company plans to implement the Airlander for use in communication, cargo carrying, survey roles and commercial sectors as well as tourism. The aircraft will also be able to take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites such as ice, water or desert terrain.

The Airlander 10 during a very early initial test flight in America back in 2012. The completed vessel is due to fly for the first time in the coming months.
The Airlander 10 during a very early initial test flight in America back in 2012. The completed vessel is due to fly for the first time in the coming months. Image by Hybrid Air Vehicles

Following the successful launch of the Airlander 10, the company plans to use a larger aircraft, the Airlander 50 which will be designed specifically for the heavy lift cargo market.