• SOCCER: UEFA Champions League Last 16 preview – Bayern v Lazio (Graphic DUE Mar 2, 12:00GMT)
  • SOCCER: UEFA Champions League Last 16 preview – Real Sociedad v PSG (Graphic DUE Mar 2, 12:00GMT)
  • SOCCER: UEFA Champions League Last 16 preview – Real Madrid v RB Leipzig (Graphic DUE Mar 2, 12:00GMT)
  • SOCCER: UEFA Champions League Last 16 preview – Man City v Copenhagen (Graphic DUE Mar 2, 12:00GMT)
  • For full details of graphics available/in preparation, see Menu -> Planners
 Flight tests for world’s largest aircraft infographic
Graphic shows how the Pathfinder 1 airship works.
GN45065EN

AVIATION

World’s largest aircraft begins flight tests

By Ninian Carter

November 14, 2023 - Pathfinder 1, a prototype electric airship designed to provide disaster relief where roads and airports are impassable, as well as zero-carbon passenger transportation, has begun flight tests in Silicon Valley.

Pathfinder 1, a prototype electric airship that could usher in a new era of climate-friendly air travel and aid humanitarian work, has begun a series of increasingly ambitious flight tests in California.

LTA Research, based in Silicon Valley and backed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has been working for 10 years on the project that it hopes will supply future disaster relief to areas where roads and airports have become impassable, as well as one day providing zero-carbon passenger transportation.

The airship, the world’s largest aircraft, coming in at 124.5 metres in length – longer than three Boeing 737s, is able to carry four tonnes of cargo over many hundreds of kilometres.

Running on twelve electric motors that can propel Pathfinder at up to 120km/h (75mph), the airship is kept aloft by 13 gigantic nylon cells inflated with approximately 28,000 cubic metres of helium gas. It’s then further enshrouded by a rigid carbon-fibre frame and wrapped in a lightweight synthetic Tedlar skin.

Test flights are currently underway around Moffett Field, before extending over the southern part of San Francisco Bay.

If successful, Pathfinder 1 will move to Akron, Ohio, where LTA Research is planning an even larger airship, the Pathfinder 3, capable of carrying even greater payloads.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 14/11/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images
Advertisement