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Airlander Begins Next Phase Of Flight Testing

Tasuns Composite Technology Co.,Ltd | Updated: Nov 27, 2017

On Nov. 17, Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV, Shortstown, Bedford, UK) Airlander lighter-than-air craft was guided into the sky by chief test pilot Dave Burns on its sixth test flight, the first in its second phase of test flying, known as Airworthiness Release 2a (AWR2a). Having the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) validate the flight test data so far and agree that the craft is safe to fly in a wider range of conditions is an important moment in Airlander’s journey. AWR2a permits Airlander to fly higher (up to 7000 feet), faster (up to 50 knots) and further away from its airfield (up to 75 nautical miles away), but most crucially allows display and demonstration activity.

A number of modifications were carried out in preparation for this next phase of testing; the most noticeable of which is the fairing attached between the hull and the mission module, which will reduce drag at the higher speeds at which the Airlander will be traveling.

Burns was joined by flight test engineer Andrew Barber. “It was a fantastic new flying experience and I am very excited about soon being able to fly on the Airlander around the UK and share some of that thrill with more of the country,” says Barber.   

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Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft. Airlanders create new capability in the air with ultra-endurance combined with large payloads. This gives unprecedented surveillance, search and communications aspects, and will ultimately lead to passenger and cargo carrying roles. The Airlander 10 combines the best characteristics of fixed-wing aircraft with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient and sustainable aircraft, with less noise, fewer emissions and lower operating costs and maintenance needs than standard forms of air transport. They can take off and land from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments in a short distance. Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfill a wide range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded both UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project.

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