Is 555-foot Blimp the World’s Largest Aircraft?

posted: 09/14/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
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American aerospace company Aeroscraft Corporation has begun production on a blimp that could soon hold the distinction of being world's largest aircraft.

Capable of carrying a 66-ton payload, the 555-foot Aeroscraft ML866 features vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and a proprietary buoyancy management system. It is capable of cruising at 100 knots and has a range of 3,100 nautical miles.

With the help of state-of-the-art landing cushions, the ML866 can also land on "unimproved surfaces," including water. Unlike many other airships that rely on gas to maintain their shape, the ML866 sports a rigid structure constructed from aluminum and carbon fiber.

Aeroscraft ML866
Aeroscraft Corporation

In a news release, Aeroscraft CEO Ignor Pasternak revealed that the company hopes to receive flight clearance from the FAA within five years. The company is also developing a scaled-up concept version of the ML866 that is capable of carrying a 250-ton payload.

As ScienceAlert's Peter Dockrill points out, the ML866 is intended solely for cargo transport and will not transport passengers.

The Ukrainian Antonov An-225 Mriya (originally designed to transport a spaceplane on its back) is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built and currently has the largest wingspan in service. It is widely accepted that the An-225 holds the generic "largest plane" title. Capable of carrying more than 850 passengers, the Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airliner.

H/T ScienceAlert


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