British design company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is working on what will be the biggest aircraft in the world.
The airship, called the Airlander 10, gets its name from 10 tons and measures 302 feet in length, according to CNN. While the aircraft was originally created for the U.S. Army to use for aerial surveillance, budget cuts forced HAV to shut the project down. However, the company now plans on conducting it's first flight tests by the end of the year, having receiving a $5.1 million grant from the U.K. government.
HAV said it designed the Airlander "to be the safest form of air travel," seattlepi.com reported. "The vehicle does not stall, lands on any reasonably flat surface and has a take-off and landing speed of around 40 knots."
CNN notes that the airship, made of a bespoke fabric of carbon fiber, Kevlar and mylar, shares traits of a blimp, a plane, and a helicopter. Helium is used so the aircraft can keep its shape, as is diesel fuel for powering the propellers and taking off and landing.
Airships haven't been popular since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, which resulted in the deaths of 36 people, but HAV wants to bring the aircraft back with a 21st century design.
"The sole problems existing old-style airships had (were) having lots of ground crew, limited ability to carry payloads and to be susceptible to weather conditions," said Chris Daniels, head of partnerships and communications at HAV. "We solved all those problems with a new concept - a hybrid aircraft. So a mix between a wing and an airship."
The creators of the Airlander said it currently uses 20 percent fuel burn of today's aircraft, as well as near-silent 325 hp V8 engines. They added that the airship can be fitted with solar panels and fly for five days straight while carrying its maximum payload.
HAV currently wants the airship to be used for civilian purposes 60 percent of the time and military purposes 40 percent of the time, CNN reported.
Daniels said the project has gained the attention from organizations around the world, including the U.S. Coastguard, which wants to manage the U.S. coastline with the airship, Swedish firm OceanSky, which wants to use the aircraft to transport wind turbines, and charity Oxfam, which wants to use it for aid relief missions after natural disasters. The company is also talking to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory about using the Airlander for scientific research.