The world’s biggest aircraft’s highly anticipated maiden flight from an airfield 45 miles north of London was postponed Sunday at the last minute.
Airlander 10 is 302 feet (92 meters) long and about 50 feet (15 meters) longer than the biggest passenger jets. A hybrid air vehicle, the “flying bum” is designed to use less fuel than planes while possessing the capacity to carry a heavier load than regular airships.
The Associated Press reported chief executive of Britain’s Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), Stephen McGlennan, saying that the airship was facing “a slight technical issue” that would not be fixed before dark. The flight had to be aborted as for a test flight, the aircraft can only be flown during the day.
The aircraft, which can reportedly travel at up to 90 miles per hour and stay in the air for almost two weeks, was originally developed for the U.S. military. However, in 2013, U.S. blimp program was scrapped. HAV has been campaigning to return the Airlander to the air since May 2015.
Based at the Cardington airfield in England, the aircraft uses helium instead of hydrogen. Helium is not flammable, reducing the risk of instances like the 1937 crash of the Hindenburg in New Jersey.
Claiming that the airships that have been ruled out in the past have a bright future, McGlennan said before the glitch was discovered, “It’s a disruptive capability.”
“Something that disruptive, it’s always long, and it’s always a winding road,” AP reported McGlennan as saying.
The firm claims that the Airlander 10 can be used for a number of functions — surveillance, communications, delivering aid, even passenger travel.
Hundreds of people turned out to watch the aircraft take off at the hangars in Bedfordshire. It is yet to be known when the next attempt at the test flight will be made.