We're just a month away from the launch of the world's biggest aircraft to ever grace the great blue beyond. The Airlander is a 300-foot-long aircraft packed with enough helium to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Originally designed as part of a US Army initiative, the airship-like vehicle was scrapped and then taken over by UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles and converted to support civilian flights.
Steampunk Blimps: Airships That Will Take You Back To The Future
The Airlander can carry 48 people at a time - far less than a jet - but because it can hover and land on almost any surface, including ice, sand and water, it could be used to transport people and goods to places not readily served by airports.
Furthermore, it can stay airborne for up to two weeks at a time, cruising at 90 mph, 20,000 feet in the air.
Think of it as a cruise ship for the skies with the ability to pull into nearly any port in any location around the world.
Blimp-Like Craft Hauls Tons of Cargo Anywhere
Unlike other airships, the Airlander is not rigid. Its hull is made from a super-strong fabric used to make spacesuits for NASA. To reduce flammability and increase strength, the fabric is coated on the outside with a polyvinyl used to coat everything from airplane interiors to rain jackets.
The inside of the aircraft is made of mylar to retain the helium, which makes the craft rigid when filled to capacity.
Because helium is lighter than air, it gives the Airlander 60 per cent of its lift. The vehicle's overall wing shape supports its aerodynamics. Four 350-horsepower diesel engines provide thrust.
10 Wild Ways To Travel In The Future
According to Hybrid Air Vehicles' website, the Airlander produces less noise, less pollution, and has a lower carbon footprint than conventional aircraft, while at the same time offering a better cargo-carrying capacity than any other flying vehicle.
Before the Airlander can launch, engineers need to put on the finishing touches, which means attaching the fins and engines. After that, the ship will take its first test flight as a civilian craft. Keep your eyes on the skies.
via Daily Mail