On 19 August, UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles successfully conducted the first flight of its Airlander 10 dirigible. What could have been a breakthrough for outsize and heavyweight cargo requiring transport into remote locations without paved runways hit a roadblock just five days after the first flight, when the Airlander 10 nosedived upon landing. The first unit sustained structural damage to the cockpit and landing gear – damage which has since been repaired. Hybrid Air Vehicles said the Airlander 10 has been powered on, and that it expects the airship to take to the skies again soon.
By 2021, the UK-based company expects to produce ten units annually of the 10-tonne cargo payload airship. Hybrid Air Vehicles is also developing a larger variant, the Airlander 50, with a planned payload of up to 60 tonnes. As might be expected, cruise speeds are not particularly high — 80 nautical miles per hour for the Airlander 10 and 105 nmph for the Airlander 50 — but given that both models will be able to stay afloat for several days, and longer if unmanned, they will have considerable range (up to 2,000 nm for the Airlander 50).