Is the Airlander really the future of aviation?
If you have taken a look at aviation news of late you cannot have failed to stumble across the Airlander 10. Here at the quill team we are not convinced the new means of travel will be a big hit but there is no doubt it is an interesting concept.
The 92m monstrosity that is the Airlander has completed its final assembly and is now ready to enter into a ground testing phase before roll-out of the hangar and first flight.
The UK built aircraft is currently sitting in a hangar in Bedfordshire where it will make its first flight from Cardington Air Field. Over 2016 the manufacturer, Hybrid Air Vehicles, claims that 200 hours of test flights will be completed.
The history of this vehicle saw it ditched as part of a US Army programme in 2012. It was developed under the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme.
Maybe they realised the expense of the project and saw it just an attempt to make an old idea relevant again- although that’s just a personal theory. I would imagine it was at the top of the list of programmes to be cut when budget cuts took hold of the purse strings.
Despite this early setback, the company is boasting of the benefits of this kind of airframe, including the fact that it can stay afloat for five days without refuelling when manned and for two weeks unmanned.
The company sees the Airlander being used for a multitude of applications including surveillance, monitoring, communications, cargo and aid delivery, and passenger roles.
Other tweeted suggestions include this:
Why you need a 92m helium filled balloon to do a tour of Italy is beyond me? Other suggestions include safaris and watching bears catch fish in Alaska. All activities you can already do utilising current means of transport.
Another question is, imagine if these things did actually take off and there was a rush to procure a fleet of them? Where on earth are you going to keep half a dozen aircraft that are 92m long by 26m high? Any suggestions let us know.
There is no doubt the technology behind the aircraft is quite a feat of engineering and the team at Hybrid Air Vehicles are clearly passionate about the Airlander. But how far it is the future of air travel is somewhat questionable.
We will just leave you with this: