The world’s largest aircraft, a helium-filled, blimp-like airship, has taken to the skies for the first time, successfully landing after its maiden voyage from Cardington Sheds in Bedfordshire, England. The company that designed and manufactured the Airlander 10 airship, Hybrid Air Vehicles, was bursting with excitement on their Twitter page.
The aircraft is a hybrid that borrows technology from airplanes, helicopters and airships. The Airlander 10 is a whopping 302 feet (92 meters). Although, the Airlander 10 is designed to stay aloft — at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet (6,100 m) — for five days when manned and up to two weeks without humans on board, the first flight was just a quick test, according to Hybrid Air Vehicles.
The company sees plenty of potential for the giant aircraft. According to Chris Daniels, head of partnerships and communication at Hybrid Air Vehicles, the aircraft can stay in the air for days and even weeks carrying a lot of weight on an ultra-stable platform. It also has the versatility to land and take off from pretty much any surface, including water, carrying up to 10 tonnes [about 22,000 lbs.] of cargo.”
With those qualities, the Airlander 10 could be used for search and rescue, patrol and surveying, as well as a Wi-Fi platform for rock festivals. It could also be used as a Passenger flight or for cargo to remote regions where there are not good roads or railways, or perhaps where an airport does not exist.