Airlander bounces back
The damaged Airlander airship has been repaired and should fly again ‘soon’, resuming its flight-testing programme
Structural damage sustained to the Airlander airship’s flight deck during its second flight last August has now been repaired, and the craft is ready to resume flight testing. “A rigorous testing and training programme has now commenced to prepare for Airlander taking to the skies again,” reports Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mcglennan. “A comprehensive investigation has taken place since Airlander’s heavy landing, the root causes of which are now fully understood and a number of changes in procedures and training have been implemented.
“The key visible change is that we now have an auxiliary landing system which allows the aircraft to land safely at a greater range of attitudes than previously. This has been fitted forward of the main landing gear skids and, like our main landing gear, is a pressurised air cushion which contacts the ground during a landing. In addition we have made a series of improvements to our ground systems to reduce the chance of an equipment failure such as the problem with the mooring mast winch that triggered the incident in last year. We are also modifying the aircraft to make sure that if the mooring line were ever to hang down again, as it did that day, it can be recovered so that it does not interfere with the approach and landing.
“The flight deck instrument panels, overhead console and all associated wiring have already been reinstalled successfully... ‘Power-on’ has been achieved and on-aircraft testing has now begun. We’re delighted to have made the progress we have in our repairs and look forward to restarting our test flight programme soon.”