Flight Testing Resumes for Massive Airlander 10

The world’s largest aircraft successfully returns to the skies after last year’s crash.

Airlander 10
The massive Airlander 10, nicknamed the Flying Bum because of its unusual shape, has resumed test flights following a hard landing during its second test flight last year.Airlander

The British company Hybrid Air Vehicles has resumed flight testing on what has been called the largest aircraft in the world – the Airlander 10. Though this was the first flight since last summer and only the third test flight of the massive helium-filled structure, it flew for about three hours and the crew accomplished all the objectives of the test flight: to conduct a full test flight, to establish basic handling characteristics and collect flight performance data.

“It was truly amazing to be back in the air,” said chief test pilot Dave Burns. “I loved every minute of the flight and the Airlander itself handled superbly.”

The Airlander 10, which first flew in August of last year, suffered a hard landing on its second test flight, forcing the company to halt the initial test phase. Since then, several modifications have been made to the structure, including the addition of a more powerful and maneuverable Mobile Mooring Mast and what the company calls "landing feet" to the Auxiliary Landing System. The initial analysis of the modified landing system by the flight test crew was favorable.

Hybrid Air Vehicles sees the ultimate purpose for the Airlander 10 as an extreme endurance platform for such missions as search-and-rescue, border patrol, coast guard, security, filming and more. The Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time. It is powered by four 325 hp turbocharged diesel engines with vectored thrust to provide short takeoff and landing, and improved ground handling capabilities for the 1.34 million cubic feet helium-filled hull. The company is also planning versions of the airship for passenger and cargo transportation.