In every aspect of life, everyone knows bigger is better. And this is no truer than with the Airlander 10 aka. ‘The Flying Bum’. It’s been cooped up in its gigantic hanger for what seems like an age now, but as of this week the world’s largest aircraft is ready to set flight!
The Airlander 10 has been built by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles and finally left its hangar at Cardington Airfield near Bedford in preparation for its first test flight. The company hopes the vessel, which emits less noise as well as pollution than traditional aircrafts, will become the future of air travel.
From just looking at the Airlander 10, it’s not hard to see why it’s been dubbed the ‘The Flying Bum,’ but this is much more than a derriere-shaped flyer. The 91-metre-long and 26-metre-high aircraft is a hybrid of an airship and an aeroplane – the combination of which means in theory it can stay airborne for up to five days.
Despite its size, the Airlander actually has no internal structure. In order to reach the skies, the shell – which is made from a liquid crystal polymer called Vectran – is packed full of helium. The lift the helium creates means that the Airlander can stay airborne for long periods because it’s essentially lighter than air.
But as this is a hybrid, 40% of its lift is generated aerodynamically using the Airlander’s wing-shaped hull. The aircraft’s engines can be rotated to provide extra thrust upwards or downwards, depending on whether you’re on take-off or landing.
The Airlander 10 was originally developed for the US Army but was abandoned due to funding. Hybrid Air Vehicles brought it back to the UK and, according to the BBC, they’re hoping to build 12 more crafts per year by 2018. It’s expected most of them will be used by the military but some are expected to be passenger aircrafts which can carry 48 people at a time.
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