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Airlander 10 has completed its first flight

News International-French

23 Aug 2016

All objectives of the planned flight were accomplished and the aircraft is safely back at its masting site.

The first flight of Airlander 10 marks the commencement of Airlander 10’s Flight Test Programme which is expected to last for a number of months. After this the aircraft will begin a series of Trials and Demonstrations with prospective customers.

Airlander 10 has been widely hailed as an innovation that will have a positive impact on the world by providing low carbon aviation and brand new capabilities in the sky. Customer interest is strong due to these game-changing capabilities of the Airlander – it offers a stable platform with huge amounts of power and space for search & rescue or communications equipment, and also offers a unique passenger experience.

A confirmatory Pre-flight test began at 0900 this morning and once Technical Director Mike Durham, Chief Test Pilot David Burns and Ground Operations Chief Alex Travell were all in agreement, clearance was granted for First Flight to commence. These three have been working together for almost thirty years, which illustrates the depth of experience and knowhow within Hybrid Air Vehicles.

The four massive but quiet engines were started approximately 30 minutes before takeoff. Once airborne, Chief Test Pilot David Burns, accompanied by Test Pilot Simon Davies, flew the majestic Airlander within a 6 mile (5 nautical mile) area around Cardington Airfield, just to the south of Bedford, in England. Airlander climbed to a height of 500ft and reached a maximum speed of 35 knots. Due to a later than anticipated take-off time the Airlander was limited to a 19 minute flight so we could land safely before darkness fell.

All test objectives were met during the flight. These included the safe launch, flight and landing of the Airlander 10 and a series of gentle turns at increasing speed. Some technical tests on its hull pressure were also undertaken.

The Airlander is expected to be a showcase of UK innovation and is already being used in the UK Government’s “Great Britain” campaign to highlight the strength of the aerospace sector and the innovation in engineering this country is capable of creating. As the Airlander approaches first flight, customer interest has increased, particularly in the defence and security sector, and this, together with UK Government support should secure 400 new aerospace jobs as well as valuable export opportunities for the UK economy.

The next step is to ensure the UK Government runs a trial in order to demonstrate the potential of this amazing aircraft to the world and secure the lucrative exports, and grow further jobs in Bedfordshire and in the supply chain across the UK (80% of Airlander’s supply chain is British). This will help ensure the £6m of UK Government grants received thus far lead to orders. Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd is also looking to raise equity through High Net Worth individuals and Institutional Investors to fund some aspects of the Flight Test Programme.

 Forward Composites has utilised its automotive and aerospace experience, working with Hybrid Air Vehicles, to bring a large air vehicle to support the US Military, to fruition.