The manufacturers of a blimp-shaped and helium-filled airship tagged as the world’s biggest airplane postponed its first flight on Sunday. The Airlander 10 which is 302- foot-long was due for take off from the airfield in London on the first test flight.
Chief executive, Stephen McGlennan of Hybrid Air Vehicles, stated that the blimp had “a minor technical issue” and there wasn’t enough time to fix it before dark.” Dubbed the “flying bum” due to its bulbous front end, this Airlander is more of a hybrid air vehicle, meaning it is part air blimp, and part plane.
The blimp is built to use less fuel but carry weightier loads than orthodox airships.
Its creators say it travels up to 90 mph and remain aloft for two weeks. The blimp was initially built for the U.S. military as they intended to use it for observation in Afghanistan. The blimp program was scrapped since 2013, and the airship’s developer has looked for funding from individual donors and government agencies.
The large aircraft is grounded at Cardington airfield; the same place where the first British aircrafts were built during World War I. However, the program was abandoned in 1930 after a crash killed almost 50 people. That and other accidents which include the New Jersey fiery 1937 crash of the Hindenburg that killed 35 people, dashed the dream of an airship as a means of transportation for years.
Unlike hydrogen, the gas which is used in the Hindenburg, helium isn’t flammable. Before the technical hitch, the CEO, McGlennan said he was positive that airships have a bright future, regardless of their apparent failure in the 20th century.
“It’s a disruptive capability,” Mcglennan said, likening it to an electric car. “Something that is disruptive is always long, and is always a winding road,” he said.