Final tweaks for world's largest aircraft

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Final preparations are being made to the world's largest aircraft before it resumes flight trials.

The part-plane, part-airship Airlander 10 has endured a chequered history, having been damaged when it nosedived during a test flight at Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire last August.

The aircraft, which is the length of a football pitch, is said to be "flight-ready" and is expected to be airborne "very soon" - although manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has yet to set a date for the flight.

HAV chief executive Stephen McGlennnan said: "With our next flight just round the corner, this opens a new chapter in aviation history.

"An aircraft that flies in an entirely new way and which can do so many useful things is about to be a regular sight over the UK. I think we'll amaze people."

Airlander was moved out of its hangar at Cardington shortly after 9pm on Friday to complete final preparations. 

First developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft, HAV launched a campaign to return it to the sky after it fell foul of defence cuts.

Airlander 10, so named because it can carry 10 tonnes of cargo, is 302ft (92 metres) long, 143ft (44 metres) wide, 85ft (26 metres) high and can travel at 92mph.

It is about 50ft (15 metres) longer than the biggest passenger jets and uses helium to become airborne.

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