Airlander set for take off

Cambridge News

(Published August 2016)

Airlander set for take off, including components made by Huntingdon firm Forward Composites

A Huntingdon firm is "hugely excited" about the first flight of the world's biggest aircraft Airlander 10 when it takes to the sky in a matter of days.

Forward Composites has made some of the parts, including the payload and mission module, for the giant airship hybrid - dubbed the Flying Bum because of its buttock-shaped nose section.

The 302ft long, 143ft wide and 85ft high airship has been taken out of its hangar at the historic Cardington airfield, once the hub of the British airship industry, for the first time since it was assembled.

It is expected to fly in the coming days once a series of tests has been completed.

Airlander Cambridge News story

Paul Jackson, managing director of Forward Composites, said: "It is hugely exciting and I am sure that when it is in the air interest in it will increase considerably.

"I am looking forward to it massively, Forward has had a lot of involvement in it."

He thought the airship would take to the sky later this week.

Hybrid Air Vehicles, which is behind the project, completed tests inside the hangar and it took just over half an hour to take Airlander out of its hanger and on to its mooring mast at the airfield near Bedford.

A spokesman from Hybrid Air Vehicles, said: "Whilst the Airlander is out on the mast the last few tests, including full power engine runs, electromagnetic interference checks and a final overhaul vehicle systems checkout, will be conducted.

"At the end of these tests the team will assess the need for either a brief return to the hangar for final inspections or, subject to weather, those inspections may be carried out on the mast."

The spokesman said: "Then it will be time for pilots David Burns and Simon Davies to take command of the Airlander 10, christened the Martha Gwyn in April, and start the test flight programme of this unique and game-changing aircraft.

"We will announce the date of first flight in due course."

The firm has urged spectators who want to see the aircraft, to remain outside the airfield boundary and not to obstruct the A600. Access to the airfield will be restricted while the test programme is taking place.

Airlander will be able to stay airborne for up to five days and will have a range of roles including communications, surveying, cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights.

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