Measuring 302 feet long and almost ready for takeoff, the largest aircraft in the world has recently been unveiled as the Airlander 10, an experimental airship from British aeronautical firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV).
The massive vessel can literally haul tons of cargo, and is designed to stay in the air without human crew for as long as three weeks. Held up by helium, this thing is not just another Goodyear blimp.
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The engineering team at HAV noted that they are making the final preparations in order to get the airship off the ground as fast as possible. A series of last-minute modifications to the hull of Airlander 10 included an enormous lower port fin, four turbocharged diesel engines, and the lightweight but durable carbon composite payload module of the airship.
Due to its size, the airship is being constructed in a hangar, and HAV is hoping that its self-sufficient design will be enough to attract buyers. Its balloon is made from a triple-layer weave of carbon fiber, mylar, and kevlar. It is tough as far as balloons go and is even tougher than the blimp.
Inside, nearly a million cubic feet of inert helium helps it stay afloat, and because it is unpressurized, it prevents leaks despite the few holes in the craft. The four powerful engines of the airship can help lift it to the shape of the hull, while the helium cut down the amount of fuel needed to fly the massive ship.
HAV plans on putting the Airlander 10 into mass production by 2018, with as many as half a dozen airships being made every year. If this concept takes off, then these crafts could have the potential of being floating luxury resorts, cargo transport, military assets, or even a safari mobile from high up in the air.