The developer of the Airlander 10 plans to fly the UK-developed hybrid airship again “in the early part of 2017” after a hard landing on 24 August halted flight testing after just two sorties.
Hybrid Air Vehicles had been hoping to fly again before the end of the year, but an update from the Bedford-based start-up on 28 October confirms that target has been put back to 2017.
HAV has been carrying out repairs to the glassfibre nose of the cockpit after the accident, in which neither pilot was hurt. It also says it has been “conducting a rigorous investigation into events that led to the heavy landing” and that these “events are now well understood”. The company is “very encouraged by the capability of the aircraft demonstrated in its initial flight tests and by the performance of all aircraft systems throughout all flight operations to date”.
The crash occurred when the nose of the 92m-long aircraft – the biggest powered air vehicle currently in production or development, and originally developed for a now defunct US military contract – dipped during a “higher than desired” approach to its Cardington base at the end of the second, 100min flight.
When the flight test programme re-starts it is expected to entail about six flights, or 20h, during the first phase, before a second, 80h phase sees the aircraft being taken to 10,000ft and flown at 65kt. A final phase of up to 200h will introduce night flights and flights outside visual flight rules, and of a distance of more than 75nm (140km) from Cardington.
HAV believes there is a potential market for 500 Airlanders, in cargo, special mission and sightseeing roles.