Worldwide Aeros Corp (Aeros) has completed the critical design review of its 40E Sky Dragon multirole airship, marking the start of production for the lighter-than-air craft.

Derived from the company’s Sky Dragon family of airships, the 40E offers a low-cost surveillance and security capability in addition to the traditional broadcast and tourism roles typically carried out by airships.

The CDR concluded that the airship was safe, enabling the fabrication and assembly to begin. Supporting structures for the vertical and horizontal stabilisers are now in development on schedule ahead of an expected completion date towards the end of 2015.

The 40E will enter service after type certification is granted by the US Federal Aviation Administration, Aeros says.

“During the recent CDR, Aeros’ technical experts from engineering, production and quality control found that the aircraft design was sound, met desired safety levels and demonstrated new system integration successfully, and I’m excited to see the aircraft quickly taking shape,” says Tim Kenny, Aeros’ director of engineering.

40D Sky Dragon airship - Worldwide Aeros Corps

The new 40E is derived from the 40D, which is already in service.

Worldwide Aeros Corp

The Sky Dragon is designed to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during day and night missions using an electro-optic/infrared sensor. It also incorporates moving map software, and a moving target indicator radar allows operators to track targets from a distance of some 230km (140 miles) in all directions, covering more than 62,000 square miles (16m ha, 40m acres) at a time, the company says.

In addition to the flexible payload, the 40E includes advanced vectored propulsion and control, onboard data workstations or HD downlink for remote camera operation, enhanced landing gear design and added levels of safety and comfort, Aeros adds.