Airlander 10, the hybrid airship, has left its hangar at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, England to commence a brief series of ground systems tests before its first flight.
Both EASA and the UK CAA have now formally given permission for the airship to conduct its first series of test flights.
It is the first time Airlander 10, the longest aircraft in the world, has been visible to the public, although viewing is restricted to a safe distance off the airfield.
A comprehensive suite of in-hangar tests was completed successfully before exit. Technical director Mike Durham said, “Last week we successfully completed our final in-hangar all-engines, all-generators, all-systems testing. My thanks to the whole business for getting us here.”
Now at its primary mast site, the aircraft is free to ‘weathervane’ (nose into the wind) because it is attached to the towable moving mast (TMM) and is also resting on the castering ground cradle (CGC), which supports the fuel tank and has its own set of wheels.
To minimise wear and environmental impact during this time, the landing skids have been fitted with special ‘shoes’.
The Airlander will be able to withstand wind speeds of up to 85 knots while moored on the mast. The last few tests, including full power engine runs, electromagnetic interference checks and a final overall vehicle systems checkout, will be conducted soon depending on the weather. The team will then assess whether a brief return to the hangar for final inspections is needed.
The date of first flight will be announced in due course.