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  1. ITV Report

Royal naming for 'Flying Bum' airship

The world's largest aircraft, currently housed in a hangar at Cardington in Bedfordshire and known fondly as the 'Flying Bum', has been officially named by the Duke of Kent.

The Airlander 10, which cost £25 million to build over 10-years, is 300 feet long and pumped with a million cubic feet of helium.

The aircraft has been named 'Martha Gywn' after the wife of the chairman of the company, Hybrid Air Vehicles, Philip Gwyn.

The part plane, part helicopter, part airship will now carry out ground testing before 200 hours of test flights begin later this year.

Click below to watch a video of the airship from Good Morning Britain reporter Nick Dixon

The aircraft, which is around 50ft longer than the biggest passenger jets, was first developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft but it fell foul of defence cutbacks.

British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) launched a campaign to return the Airlander 10 to the skies in May 2015.

HAV claim it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

It is currently housed in a First World War hangar in Cardington, Beds., but will soon be able to stay airborne for around five days during manned flights.

The airship was first developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft.

"It's very pleasant to fly. From the flight deck you have a lovely view.

"It allows you to have a good look around because generally the flying is fairly low so there's plenty to see.

"For the people on board and the people down below it's going to look quite a sight.

"You're talking about 300 feet long. There's nothing that size at the moment."

– David Burns, Chief Test Pilot
The Airlander 10 can travel at a speed of 92mph. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The Airlander 10 can travel at a speed of 92mph.

Professor Chris Atkin, who will become president of the Royal Aeronautical Society in May, described the project as "absolutely fantastic".

He said: "It's a new slant on a well-established idea with very clever use of technology."

After sitting in the cockpit of a flight simulator developed for Airlander 10, Prof Atkin predicted that the aircraft could be used by passengers on pleasure flights and to get to locations that are hard to reach.

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