The Hybrid Air Vehicles HAV 304 Airlander 10, currently the largest aircraft worldwide, is a British hybrid airship manufactured by Hybrid Air Vehicles. It was originally built for the United States Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme with intention to provide ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) support for ground troops through UAV altitude-endurance.
Airlander 10 is underpinned by the company’s numerous patents vested worldwide. From the latest materials technology, to the aerodynamic effects of its shape, it is full of innovation. There is no internal structure in the Airlander – it maintains its shape due to the pressure stabilisation of the helium inside the hull, and the smart and strong Vectran material it is made of. Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings.
Airlander 10 has successfully completed its first flight. All objectives of the planned flight were accomplished and the aircraft is now safely back at its masting site. Airlander 10 took off from the historic Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England at approximately 19:45 on Wednesday 17th of August, after a short flight it landed at 20:00, before dark. The two Test Pilots were ecstatic about the flight and the flight performance of Airlander during its time in the air.
Airlander 10 Technical Data
Helium filled, laminated fabric construction hull. The hull’s aerodynamic shape, an elliptical cross-section allied to a cambered longitudinal shape, provides up to 40% of the vehicle’s lift. The internal diaphragms required to support this shape allow for a limited amount of compartmentalisation further enhancing the fail-safe nature of the vehicle. Multiple ballonets located fore and aft in each of the hulls provide pressure control.
Profiled pneumatic tubes / skids on the underside of the two outer hulls provide for multi-surface ground operation including amphibious capability. On the production version skids are ‘sucked-in’ for a clean-in-flight profile.
4 x 325 hp, 4 litre V8 direct injection, turbocharged diesel engines. Two engines mounted forward on the hull and two on the stern of the hull for cruise operation. All four are configured with ducts with blown vanes to allow vectored thrust for take-off/landing/ground handling operation.
Cabin and Payload Capability
Located on centerline; comprises 4 primary areas as follows:
pilot station and one observer seat. (Two pilot station in production version.)
Large transparencies for excellent all-round visibility.
Passenger and/or Payload area measuring 3.2m x 7.2m x 1.7m. Larger area on production version.
Centerline payload beam for externally slung loads.
Fuel tanks and additional payload space.
Here are a few things you need to know about ‘Airlander 10’ Worlds biggest Airplane…!
1.Bigger than A380
The Airlander 10 is “part plane, part helicopter,” and after more than three years of hard work, the engineers are putting the final touches on the world’s largest flying machine. Airlander 10 is much bigger than the world’s largest aero plane, an A380, but flies much lower and slower.
- Ability to carry 10 tonnes
The Airlander 10, named after its ability to carry 10 tonnes, measures 92 metres long, 43m wide and 26m tall. It’s shaped like a traditional airship, made of super-strong carbon fibre and filled with helium to raise it.
- U.S. Army project
The Airlander was originally developed as a part of a U.S. Army project, but was dropped by the higher-ups in 2012 and it is now being converted into a business that offers leisure flights from a hangar in England’s Cardington, Bedfordshire.
- How much Big..!
The 300-foot-long vessel was filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium during a test run in October and the engines and fins are being fitted before the aircraft’s first flight with its new specifications next month. The exact date for its flight has yet to be announced, but the craft will be restricted to flying within a 70-mile radius.
- Woven fabric
Its composition includes a woven fabric for strength on the inside, and a Tedlar layer for protection on the outside, sandwiching a mylar film to retain the helium. Materials used throughout the manufacture of the Airlander 10, range from bespoke hull fabric to the mainly carbon composite mission module; fuel module; ducts, and engine support battens.
- worth of $1.1 billion
This model alone is worth $1.1 billion and has fairly complex flight systems. The Airlander produces 60 percent of its lift aerostatically (because it is so light) and 40 percent aerodynamically (because of its wing-shape, as well as having the ability to rotate its engines).
- Special feature.
These features allow the craft to hover as well as land on nearly any surface, including water, desert, and ice. With anything this large, it doesn’t move very quickly (cruising speeds at 90 mph), but it can stay in the air for two weeks at a time and reach heights of 20,000 feet with a 10-tonne cargo.
- Major Investor
The project was initially given £60 ($122) million by the US government before it was pulled by the military for being too costly. It was then shipped over to Britain, where it received $26 million of private investment cash including government and EU grants worth $12 million. The project is backed by various celebrities including Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson and Richard Branson.
- 1.3 million cubic feet of helium
The vessel was filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium – enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools – in a test run last October and now the engines and fins are being fitted ahead of next month’s flight. The craft has already been tested with a successful hover test, with the hull being filled with helium and floated outside the aircraft hanger in November, but this will be the first test once the engines are successfully attached.
- Test flight
The main purpose of the test flight is to start amassing the 200 hours of flight time any new design needs before it is declared airworthy by the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Article By: Yadav Khagendra Kumar
M-tech (Aircraft Maintenance Engineering)-Hindustan university, India
Aeronautical Engineer-NWPU, China.