last week was a significant week for the aviation industry because the the world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander by UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles finally took to the sky. measuring some 300 feet (91 meters) long, the Airlander is around 60 feet longer then the current biggest airliners, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8, and is nearly 30 feet longer than the cargo-carrying Antonov An-225, which is the current longest aircraft. the Airlander might look like an airship, in fact it does have some DNA of an airship in the form of the inert helium-filled balloon above the 46 meters long flight deck, which contributes to 60% of the aircraft lifts, while the rest of the hull fill in the rest of the lift.
the hull of the ship is essentially a hydrofoil and creates lift with forward speed just like any regular airplane does. if really think about it, the Airlander is really a clever design and could be worthy of an aviation breakthrough. despite its blimp-like appearance, it is anything but slow; the Airlander is capable of pushing forward at 100 mph (160 km/h) and can stay airborne for over three weeks without the need for refueling. this means that it could go no aircraft has gone and do things that current horde of flying contraptions can’t such as delivery of goods to hard to reach areas or staying aloft for extended period time for communication purposes and covering sports events.
another key features that set it apart from traditional airship is its air cushioned landing system, thus allowing it to land without the need for for a bunch of ground crew like other aircraft does. the current version of the Airlander is a 38-ton forerunner to the Airlander 50, which will be a 50-ton heavy lift example destined to take to the sky next year. there are also several plans in the pipeline for the HAV, including the possibility of a ‘luxury’ model equipped with hundreds of feet long infinity pools and models that are adapted for safaris and whale watching trips. however, most importantly, this aircraft will contribute significantly less to the pollution unlike the current aircrafts.
and oh, in case you don’t already know, Bruce Dickson of British headbanging metal band, Iron Maiden is a passionate shareholder of the HAV too. so yes, the man’s interest is way beyond hard rocking music and English ale.