Airlander prepares for flight once more

Airlander prepares for flight once more

The Airlander team has announced the structural damage sustained to the flight deck during its second test flight in August 2016 has now been repaired.

Following this successful repair of the flight deck structure, Airlander is now structurally complete ahead of hangar exit and resuming the flight test programme.

The key visible change is the use of an auxiliary landing system (ALS) 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 the team has made a series of improvements to the ground systems to reduce the chance of an equipment failure such as the problem with the mooring mast winch that triggered the incident in August last year. The team are also modifying the aircraft to make sure that if the mooring line were ever to hang down from the aircraft again, as it did that day, it can be recovered so that it does not interfere with the approach and landing of the aircraft.

Hybrid Air Vehicles has extensively analysed and reviewed the telemetry data, and video/audio (both on-board and from the ground), which has allowed the team to understand how the aircraft performed in great detail. The results have been fed into the simulator, which has allowed much more realistic training in normal and emergency conditions for our flight crew, which will help manage a wider range of potential scenarios than was previously the case.

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.

Operations director Tom Grundy said: “Over this period the whole focus of the team has been to improve the way we work and the way we operate the aircraft so that our next stage of flying achieves all of our objectives. Our work in this has been guided by our investigations, which were conducted and reviewed in line with the exhaustive standards that are the norm across the aerospace industry.”


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