Airlander taking shape for maiden flight over Bedfordshire

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103454001

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103454001

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Behind the shed doors at Cardington, work is continuing to prepare the world’s biggest airship for its maiden flight over Bedfordshire.

This month, the team at Hybrid Air Vehicles has attached the mission module to the helium-inflated Airlander 10.

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103443001

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103443001

The module, which includes the cockpit and payload bay, follows the attachment of the fuel tank and the payload beam, which supports bulky external cargo.

HAV Technical Director Mike Durham said: “It’s very satisfying for the team and me to get another milestone under our belts. We’re hugely excited about the forthcoming Airlander First Flight this year.”

Innovative British technology is supporting the project. Unlike traditional airships, the Airlander has no internal structure but it becomes rigid through being filled with helium, at just above atmospheric pressure.

The super-strong hull material has been especially designed by Warwick Mills and assembled by ILC Dover, the company which makes NASA spacesuits.

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103507001

Airlander re-build is nearing completion PNL-160126-103507001

A spokesman said: “Its innovative 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.

“The very latest materials, which are both strong and light, are used throughout the manufacture of our cutting-edge Airlander 10, ranging from the bespoke hull fabric to the mainly carbon composite Mission Module, Fuel Module, Ducts and engine support battens.”

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