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China’s AS700 manned airship completed its first flight

The “Xiangyun” (Chinese word for “auspicious clouds”) AS700 civil manned airship developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) completed its first flight. This flight comprehensively tested the airship’s own performance and capabilities such as crew flight, ground support, and airspace coordination, laying the foundation for subsequent long-distance flights.

China’s AS700 manned airship completed its first flight
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2 minutes, 10 secondes

This transition flight went very smoothly as planned. Judging from the flight conditions, the airship’s maneuverability is good“, Lin Hong, the AS700 pilot who flew this mission, said. “AS700 uses vector control technology and has the ability to take off and land vertically in small spaces. It is also more maneuverable and flexible than other types of airships, which will greatly save operating costs when land is extremely expensive”, he added.

Zhou Lei, chief designer of the AS700 manned airship project, said: “This flight completed all scheduled tasks and fully verified the AS700’s flight communications, facility loading, and off-site takeoff and landing capabilities. At the same time, it also further tested the capabilities of the technical team.”

According to AVIC, the main structural materials of the AS7000 capsule are manufactured domestically. It uses non-metallic multi-layer composite materials instead of imported materials, allowing the airship to achieve low leakage, low temperature resistance and wear resistance while traveling in the air, improving stability. Compared with similar airships from other countries, the AS700 manned airship has a lower single-seat price. 

AS700 civil manned airship developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
The AS700 civil manned airship developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (photo: AVIC)

The project team has achieved three firsts in terms of product development, technical problem solving, and airworthiness standards for the AS700“, Du Wei, project manager of the AS700 manned airship, said. During the AS700’s development process, the project team also assisted the Civil Aviation Administration of China in preparing and issuing a draft for domestic airworthiness regulations for manned airships for the first time.

In terms of market development, Du Wei said that the development of AS700 is in line with China’s consumption transformation and upgrading needs. Currently, it has received intention orders for about 20 aircraft, and the first boat is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2024. In the future, the development team will use low-altitude sightseeing and tourism as a typical demonstration scenario, hoping to further expand the application scenarios to emergency rescue, urban public services and other fields.

As the living standards of Chinese people continue to improve, the enthusiasm for low-altitude aerial sightseeing tourism is increasing day by day. We hope that the AS700, a highly safe, environmentally friendly, convenient and comfortable airship, will be able to carry more people for them to see the rivers, lakes and seas of the motherland within a short distance“,  Zhou Lei said. He believes that the AS700 manned airship could contribute to the takeoff of the “low altitude economy”.

The maximum takeoff weight of the AS700 manned airship is 4150 kg, the maximum range is 700 km, the maximum flight time is 10 hours, the maximum flight speed is 100 km per hour, and the maximum number of passengers can be 10 (including 1 pilot).

Cover photo: AVIC – The AS700 civil manned airship developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)

More information www.avic.com