World's largest aircraft set to fly

It's an airship, it's a plane, it's the Airlander 10.

The world's largest aircraft is set to make its first flight later this year, according to its British manufacturer, Hybrid Air Vehicles.

At a media launch event at Cardington Airfield north of London on Monday, its backers showcased an aircraft which they said could stay in the air for up to two weeks.

Measuring 92m long and able to carry 48 passengers, the slow-moving hybrid aircraft is pumped with a million cubic ft of helium, dwarfing the largest jumbo jet.

It will be able to fulfil a wide range of communication, cargo-carrying and survey roles in the military and commercial sectors.

It does not need a tarmac runway as it uses helium to become airborne and can take off and land vertically. It can operate from open fields, deserts, ice or water, which means that it could be useful for humanitarian missions or coastguard monitoring.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'World's largest aircraft set to fly'. Print Edition | Subscribe