- Structural damage sustained on the Flight Deck during its second Test Flight last August has now been repaired.
- Airlander is now in an extensive test phase prior to its next flight.
- Today we announce a number of the improvements implemented since last year:
- We have added an Auxiliary Landing System which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously.
- Ground support equipment improvements have been implemented, including the ability to recover the mooring line once it has been released from storage.
- Analysis of how the aircraft performed on its two August flights have been reviewed in detail to allow enhanced training in normal and emergency conditions for Airlander’s flight crew.The Airlander team are pleased to announce that the structural damage sustained to the Flight Deck during its second Test Flight last August has now been repaired. Following this successful repair of the Flight Deck structure, Airlander is now structurally complete ahead of Hangar Exit and resuming the Flight Test Programme.
The key visible change is that we now have an Auxiliary Landing System (ALS) which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously. This has been fitted forward of the main landing gear (skids) and, like our main landing gear, is a pressurised air cushion which contacts the ground during a landing.
In addition we have made a series of improvements to our ground systems to reduce the chance of an equipment failure such as the problem with the mooring mast winch that triggered the incident in August last year. We are also modifying the aircraft to make sure that if the mooring line were ever to hang down from the aircraft again, as it did that day, it can be recovered so that it does not interfere with the approach and landing of the aircraft.
We have extensively analysed and reviewed the telemetry data, and video/audio (both on-board and from the ground), which has allowed us to understand how the aircraft performed in great detail. We have fed the results of that work back into our simulator, which has allowed much more realistic training in normal and emergency conditions for our flight crew, which will help us to manage a wider range of potential scenarios than was previously the case. This will help the crew if they are again called upon to respond to unexpected events such as last August’s unplanned steep approach to the airfield, which was caused by the mooring line hanging down underneath it.
A rigorous testing and training programme has now commenced to prepare for Airlander taking to the skies again. “Over this period the whole focus of the team has been to improve the way we work and the way we operate the aircraft so that our next stage of flying achieves all of our objectives. Our work in this has been guided by our investigations, which were conducted and reviewed in line with the exhaustive standards that are the norm across the aerospace industry,” says Tom Grundy, Operations Director.
Hybrid Air Vehicles continues to benefit from strong investor and customer support, and are progressing a number of customer demonstrations opportunities and potential sales. Hybrid Air Vehicles CEO, Steve McGlennan says, “Throughout the last six months we have been heartened by the many messages of support from people outside our immediate business who understand the learning process that is at the heart of flight test. We have every confidence that, in delivering the key learning points that we have identified, we will be in a great position to deliver a safe, robust and effective flight test programme when we get back into the air. We look forward to showing off the best of British innovation and Engineering to the world again very soon.”
We are pleased to report that our insurers, led by Allianz, have helped us significantly in the phase after our heavy landing - reflecting their confidence in the Airlander’s upcoming test flight programme. Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd is not announcing a specific date for the next flight of Airlander. Achieving a safe flight is the priority, and we will make further announcements in due course.
About Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd
Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft. They utilise new aerospace technology that combines the best of the characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and operating cost than other forms of air transport.
Airlanders are low noise, low pollution, and are environmentally-friendly. They have ultra-long endurance, and a point-to-point cargo-carrying capacity. They can take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded both UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project. In addition the company has carried out two ‘crowdfunding’ rounds and is proud to have more than 2000 shareholders without whom return to flight would not have been possible.
The Airlander project was selected for funding through a dedicated SME Instrument of Horizon 2020, which the European Commission uses to invest in and support high growth and highly innovative small businesses. The technology is also fully in line with activities under the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport Societal Challenge of Horizon 2020, which aims to boost the competitiveness of the European transport industries and achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate-and-environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society.
Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfil a wide range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights.
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