Giant helium-filled airship takes flight for first time in UK

 With engines roaring, the 302-foot (92-meter) hybrid that is a mix of a blimp, helicopter and airplane, but affectionately known as the "Flying Bum" rose slowly into the air from its base in Cardington, Bedfordshire, about 45 miles (73 kilometers) north of London.

Hundreds of local people had turned out for the historic maiden voyage, lining up around the perimeter of the airfield. Spectators watched as the aircraft made its way in a circuitous route around the field, and after being aloft for about 30 minutes, it safely landed, just as dusk was falling.
The height of six double-decker buses, the gargantuan airship is designed to use less fuel than conventional aircraft but carry heavier loads. It is filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium — enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Airlander 10 can reach an altitude of 16,000 feet (4,900 meters), travel at up to 90 mph (148 kph) and stay aloft for up to two weeks, according to a Digital Journal story in February this year.
"It's a great British innovation," said chief executive Stephen McGlennan, reports ABC News. "It's a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed-wing aircraft, it's got helicopter, it's got airship."
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) a British-owned company originally designed the aircraft for the U..S. military in 2012 as a surveillance aircraft in Afghanistan. But the program was scrapped in 2013 and HAV brought their designs back to the U.K. after paying $301,000 for the prototype.
Today's test flight is a milestone in the development of the Airlander, still untested in commercial use. Airlander 10 still needs to clock at least 200 hours of flight time before being considered airworthy by the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Chris Pocock, the defense editor of aviation magazine AIN, said there is still some question of the aircraft's viability in commercial use, even though the company said earlier this year that they were looking at that prospect.
Source Digital Journal