Technicians recently completed a full hull inspection of Airlander, using rope access techniques developed to make maintaining this unique aircraft routine.

This was the first time this access process has been used outside on the hull, following development inside the Airlander hangar. This technique is seen as key to enabling Airlander to demonstrate its ability to be maintained outside, without need for a permanent hangar.

The company reports that no major problems were found and Airlander got the thumbs up to continue its flight test programme.

A statement said: “We now benefit from remarkably easy access to all the upper surfaces and systems of the Airlander, using the same ascender system as the technician team uses for routine engine maintenance and inspection.”

Airlander is 26 metres tall (around the same height as four stacked double decker buses) which means creative thinking is required around maintenance techniques. Safety ropes are permanently attached to the hull and technicians undertake rigorous training to ensure safety standards. Access is gained to the hull via power ascenders.

“I didn’t want to come down”

“Being up on the hull is a fantastic experience – I didn’t want to come down! It was a privilege to be part of the small team that performed the scheduled safety checks. We were pleased to find no major issues, further proving Airlander’s resilience.”

By Ivor Pope, Maintenance, Modification and Ground Operations Manager

Preparing for lift-off

We recently interviewed Chris Daniels, Head of Partnerships & Communication, Airlander, who told us more about this “entirely new way of flying” and when it’s expected to launch.