The HAV 304 “Airlander” is just over 300 feet long. That’s nearly 60 feet longer than a Boeing 747, 80 feet longer than the Spruce Goose, and 30 feet longer than the Antonov An-225, the previous title-holder for the world’s largest aircraft.
The flying leviathan was produced by British aeronautics firm Hybrid Air Vehicles, and it’s being considered for commercial and rescue applications–at around $100 million each.
The Airlander’s design is more complex and functional than its Hindenberg aesthetics would indicate. The hull’s shape produces the same aerodynamic lift as an airplane wing, and a series of enormous bladders are filled with inert helium to get it airborne. Four turbocharged, V8 diesel engines produce 350 horsepower a piece and power the propellers. The rear and forward props push it forward, but the Airlander’s design allows for “zero-energy” lift during long-distance flight and it can hover for 21 days straight, albeit while burning about 818 gallons of fuel per day. Top speed? A modest 100 mph, but that’s still impressive for something tipping the scales at 38 tons and designed to haul many more tons of cargo.