The Airlander – level 3
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, it's actually quite hard to define!
The Airlander’s a cross between a plane, an airship, and a helicopter. And it's massive – as long as a football pitch and as tall as six double-decker buses. Small wonder it's been dubbed the biggest aircraft in the world.
Today the Airlander made its debut flight in the UK, floating in a hangar at Cardington airport in Bedfordshire. The hybrid aircraft needs to clock up 200 hours of flying time before it's deemed airworthy by the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency. But its makers, Hybrid Air Vehicles, believe it could be the aircraft of the future.
They say that 25 million pound Airlander is capable of carrying heavier loads than a jumbo jet, while producing far less noise and emitting no pollution. The company reportedly plans to build twelve Airlanders every year by 2018, some of which could be used for passenger travel.
Difficult words: cross (hybrid), dub (give an unofficial name), clock up (reach, register), deem (consider), airworthy (safe to fly), emit (to put out).
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