Huntingdon firm ‘privileged’ to be involved in production of world’s biggest aircraft

Airlander 10 unveiled last week with the help of Huntingdon company Forward Composites

Airlander 10 unveiled last week with the help of Huntingdon company Forward Composites - Credit: Archant

A Huntingdon-based company has played a significant role in the production of what will become the world’s biggest aircraft.

Airlander

Airlander - Credit: Archant

Unveiled last week, the Airlander 10, measuring more than 302ft from nose to tail and 85ft in height, is a blimp-like aircraft that is on the verge of taking to the skies, thanks in part to Forward Composites.

The company, in St Peter’s Road, has worked on a number of parts of the craft including the vehicle’s hold, which will carry up to 48 passengers or 10 tons of cargo.

The firm was also involved in creating the fins and other parts of the airship that is currently based at a huge hangar in Cardington, Bedfordshire.

Forward Composites managing director Paul Jackson told The Hunts Post: “It is a great privilege for us to be involved in the construction of this aircraft.


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“We have worked with Hybrid Air Vehicles (the company behind Airlander 10) since the start so it has given us a chance to really tailor the composites to what they require.”

The company has been involved with the aircraft for more than three years, including under its previous guise Lola Composites.

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Mr Jackson added: “It is amazing for us as a team to be able to be involved in a project that has been taken notice of by people all over the world.”

To take flight the aircraft will be pumped with a million cubic feet of helium and can stay aloft for three weeks if unmanned and flown by remote control or five days if manned.

It can then land on anything flat, be it water, desert or ice.

At the official launch, in the hangar once the home of the British airship industry till 1930, Mr Jackson was amazed at the size of the ship.

“When I was in the hangar I just couldn’t believe the vast size of the Airlander. Even after being in the hangar for a while it was still amazing – it’s not until you are up close that you see how remarkable it is.”

To the delight of Mr Jackson Forward Composite’s logo has been displayed on the side of the craft along with others who were a part of its production.

“It was great to see that and also be name-checked twice by Hybrid Air Vehicles’ chief executive Stephen McGlennan during his speech introducing the craft.”

The company behind the vast aircraft, that the Royal’s Navy’s carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth would fit inside, is set to commission three or four more units in the coming years.

There is also a blueprint for an even larger Airlander that could house entire suites of rooms within its hull.

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