(CNBC) – The world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, is ready to fly again after its crash last summer, but the company behind the blimp is not giving a timeline for takeoff.
British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles makes the Airlander 10 which has been dubbed the “flying bum” by the press. In August, 2016, the blimp experienced a heavy landing and the front flight deck sustained damage.
On Monday, Hybrid Air Vehicles said it had made a number of improvements to prevent a repeat of the crash, and the Airlander 10 is ready for another test flight. The company has added an “auxiliary landing system” which allows the aircraft to land safely. The device, essentially a pressurized air cushion which makes contact with the ground to stop the blimp, has been fitted in front of the main landing gear.
Hybrid Air Vehicles said that it has also improved the ground system where the airship moors. The firm also analyzed the telemetry data and video and audio from the aircraft and ground. It then fed these into the simulator which will allow it to train crew better.
“This will help the crew if they are again called upon to respond to unexpected events such as last August’s unplanned steep approach to the airfield, which was caused by the mooring line hanging down underneath it,” Hybrid Air Vehicles said in a press release.
A rigorous testing and training program is underway to prepare for another test flight, but the company did not give a specific date, only saying that “achieving a safe flight is the priority”.
Hybrid Air Vehicles said that its insurer, Allianz, “have helped us significantly in the phase after our heavy landing”, without giving any details about terms of the insurance contract.
The 302 feet long Airlander 10 is vying to become a leader in the hybrid aviation industry, which could be worth $50 billion over the next 20 years, according to companies building these aircraft.
“What a hybrid aircraft can do is very efficiently carry a heavy load and that heavy load can basically be three things – people, cargo or it can be fuel – and it has ultra-long endurance,” Chris Daniels, head of partnerships at Hybrid Air Vehicles, one of the companies developing an airship, told CNBC last year, explaining the appeal of the aircraft type.
Top: World’s largest aircraft Airlander 10 before it crashed last summer. Photo: CNBC
Inset: A front view of the Airlander 10 made by Hybrid Air Vehicles. Photo: CNBC
SOURCE: CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal