The World's Longest Aircraft

The world's longest aircraft has been unveiled in Britain's biggest aircraft hangar. At first, you might mistake it for a giant airship - gas-filled balloon on top, pod slung underneath. But the unique, aerodynamic shape of the balloon - it looks as if a series of cigars have been sewn together - means it can also generate lift just like an aeroplane wing. That is key, because it enables the designers to make the machine heavier than air, which cuts the need to have dozens of crew hanging on to ropes holding it down every time you land. In fact, you can land it via remote control with no-one on board at all if you like. And on water if needs be. Let me put it into perspective for you. This thing is two-and-a-half times longer than the distance covered by the Wright brothers' first powered flight. With a length of 302ft (92m) the new airship is about 60ft longer than the biggest airliners, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. It is also almost 30ft longer than the massive cargo-carrying Antonov An-225, which until now was the longest aircraft ever built.