The world’s longest aircraft makes first test flight

The world's longest aircraft makes first test flight

The world’s longest aircraft has made the first 19 minute flight above its airfield in Bedfordshire, the Wired reports.

The AirLander 10, carrying two test pilots, took off from the Cardington Airfield at 19:45BST on August 17 and touched back down quarter of an hour later. It is the first test flight of a number planned for the coming months.

If its creators can successfully demonstrate the behemoths ability to fly for long durations, it will be touted to potential customers.

The part-blimp, part-helicopter has been constructed by Hybrid Air Vehicles and is a forerunner to the even larger Airlander 50 – which will be produced in the early 2020s.

Until the 50 is fully constructed the AirLander 10 holds the title as the world’s longest aircraft. At 92m long the ship – filled with helium – was first moved out of its hangar on August 6. Since then it has been waiting for the ideal conditions and tests to be completed before it made the maiden flight.

During the initial flight the AirLander climbed to a height of 500ft and reached a top speed of 35 knots (approximately 40mph). It’s pilots flew the vehicle in a six mile area around the airfield, completed a number of turns, and made a safe landing. “It flew like a dream,” chief test pilot Dave Burns said in a statement.

When the 26m-high aircraft is fully operational it will be capable of flying for five days and nights. However, in an unmanned mode, the company says it would be possible for it to fly for two weeks at a time. Hybrid Air Vehicles say the AirLander will have a top altitude of 16,000ft, cruise speed of 80 knots and a ‘loiter’ speed of 20 knots – it weighs 20,000 kg and can carry a payload of up to half this weight.

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