Aerospace Current Affairs

Airlander 10: World’s largest aircraft embarks maiden flight

The world’s largest (longest) aircraft the Airlander 10 has embarked its maiden flight at an airfield in Cardington in central England. It is a hybrid airship made by Hybrid Air Vehicles in United Kingdom.

Its successful flight comes 85 years after another airship the ill-fated R101 took off in October 1930 from the same airfield before crashing in France.

Features of Airlander 10

  • Airlander 10 is hybrid ship i.e. it is a partly plane and partly airship filled with helium gas. It is 92-metre-long and 43.5m wide.
  • It can fly at up to 4,880 metres and reach speeds of 148 kilometres per hour. It can also carry a 10-tonne payload.
  • It can stay airborne for more than two weeks unmanned and up to five days if manned.
  • It was first developed for the US Government as a surveillance aircraft, but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks. It can also be used for commercial purpose

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World’s first 3D printed plane THOR unveiled by Airbus

The world’s first 3D-printed aircraft THOR was unveiled by European aerospace company, Airbus at the International Aerospace Exhibition held in Schoenefeld, Germany.

The THOR is short for Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality. It resembles a large, white model airplane but is windowless.

Key features of THOR

  • THOR has just 3 parts. It is lighter, faster and cheaper.
  • It is windowless small pilotless propeller aircraft.
  • It weighs 21 kilo grams and less than 4 metres long.

All it parts (except the electrical elements) are 3D printed from a substance called polyamide.

THOR’s inaugural flight was conducted near Hamburg, Germany in November 2015. Aerospace companies like Airbus and Boeing already are using 3D printing technology to make parts for their huge passenger jets A350 and B787 Dreamliner.

About 3D printing technology

  • 3D printing is a process of making 3-D (three dimensional) solid objects from a digital file with extreme precision.
  • This technology is also termed additive manufacturing as the 3D printed object is created us additive processes i.e. by laying down successive layers of manufacturing material on each other until the entire object is created.
  • This technology has limitless possibilities and can create almost anything with just raw material and a computer generated model.

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