Airship manufacturer Worldwide Aeros expected US certification of its new Aeros 40D Sky Dragon last week, clearing the way for delivery to Chinese launch customer Beret Airlines, which will use the lighter-than-air craft for advertising and broadcasting missions.

The 40D flew for the first time in mid-December and is an enlarged and upgraded version of the San Bernardino, California-based company's Aero 40B airship, which it replaces in production. Envelope volume is increased almost 13%, to just over 2,830m³ (100,000ft³), giving the 46.6m (153ft)-long airship a 35% greater useful load of almost 910kg (2,000lb).

Other improvements include a new envelope fabric and replacement of electrical indicators with a camera providing a visual display of the level of the small auxiliary gasbag, or ballonet. Previously, Aeros says, the pilot had to leave the seat and look up inside the envelope to check the level indicator on the ballonet, which is used to control buoyancy. Now a camera view is displayed on a cockpit monitor.

The new airship retains the 40B's digital flight controls and is intended for multiple missions. Aeros is hopeful of additional orders for the 40D from Beret, which plans to become a leading airship operator in the region.

Aeros 40D    
The Aeros 40D was expected to receive US certification last week

Source: Flight International