Technical issue delays maiden flight of Airlander 10

The world’s longest aircraft had its first flight postponed at the last minute due to safety concerns.

The Airlander 10 – part plane, part airship – had its maiden flight delayed yesterday due to a technical issue.

Originally developed by the US government for surveillance purposes, British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) took over development after US defence cutbacks. The company says the craft could be used for everything from passenger travel through to communications, aid delivery and surveillance.

The hybrid aircraft is 92m in length, making it approximately 15m longer than the largest current passenger jets. It will be able to stay in the sky for an impressive five days during manned flights.

HAV first demonstrated the Airlander’s capabilities last October when it was floated inside its hangar at Cardington in Bedfordshire during construction. This March it was unveiled in its entirety after assembly had been fully completed. 

Yesterday was meant to be the aircraft’s maiden flight, however safety concerns grounded the aircraft due to a technical problem. Test flights of the Airlander 10 can only take place during daylight, so the attempt was aborted as organisers were worried that the delay would mean the flight couldn’t be completed before sunset. No date has yet been scheduled for the deferred flight.

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