Airlander 10 Gets Ready to Fly

Final assembly is underway for new hybrid aircraft.

Airlander 10
The Airlander 10 is being prepared to take its first flight this spring.Hybrid Air Vehicles

A new airship-like aircraft called Airlander 10, produced out of Great Britain by Hybrid Air Vehicles, is being readied for its first flight, which the company hopes to achieve this spring.

The engines, fuel module, payload beam (added to carry external cargo), fins and what the company has termed the mission module — the cockpit and payload bay — were recently attached to the Airlander 10’s main hull, and the engines are now in the process of being tested in preparation for the first flight.

As the company’s name implies, the Airlander 10 is designed as a hybrid aircraft, attaining 60 percent of its lift from its lighter-than-air structure and 40 percent from aerodynamic shapes and vectored propulsion. Hybrid Air Vehicles claims the 302-foot-long, 143-foot-wide and 85-foot-tall aircraft will be capable of hovering and landing on its retractable skids on nearly any surface, including ice, water and sand.

The main structure of the Airlander is composed of a material made from layers of fabric, Tedlar and mylar that forms a rigid structure when filled with helium. The mission module, fuel module, ducts and engine support are constructed from a carbon composite material.

The aircraft is powered by four 350 hp turbocharged diesel engines, two up front and two in the rear, capable of bringing the aircraft as high as 20,000 feet. The configuration of the engines allows for thrust vectoring. However, being so massive, the Airlander 10’s speed is projected to be restricted to around 80 knots.