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Maiden flight of world’s longest plane delayed over technical issues

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Airlander 10

Airlander 10

The maiden flight of the world’s longest aircraft has been postponed at the last minute.

The Airlander 10 – part plane, part airship – was due to take off from Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire on Sunday but a ‘technical issue’ meant they had to abort the test for safety reasons.

The aircraft can only fly in daylight for a test flight and it was feared the flight would not have been completed before dark by the time the issue was resolved, an organiser said.

It is not known when another attempt at a test flight will be made.

The enormous aircraft measures 302ft (92m) long and is around 50ft (15m) longer than the biggest passenger jets.

Its developers say it can travel at up to 90 mph (148 kph) and stay aloft for up to two weeks.

It was first developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft but it fell foul of defence cutbacks.

British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) launched a campaign to return the Airlander 10 to the skies in May 2015.

The huge aircraft will be able to stay airborne for around five days during manned flights.

HAV claims it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

Speaking on Sunday before the technical hitch, McGlennan said he was confident airships have a strong future, despite their public image as a failed 20th-century aviation experiment.

“It’s a disruptive capability,’ he said, likening it to the electric car – a technology finally making a long-elusive breakthrough into mass use thanks to Elon Musk’s Tesla.

“Something that disruptive, it’s always long, and it’s always a winding road.”

The vast aircraft is based at Cardington airfield, where the first British airships were built during and after World War I.

The programme was abandoned after a 1930 crash that killed almost 50 people, including Britain’s air minister.

That and other accidents including the fiery 1937 crash in New Jersey of the Hindenburg, which killed 35, dashed the dream of the airship as a mode of transportation for decades.

Unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg, helium is not flammable.


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