May 26, 2008 It's a radical new form of air transport platform first proposed by Aeros founder Igor Pasternak back in 2005, and Gizmag has been following the development of the Aeroscraft ML866 "superyacht for the sky" with great interest as it makes the transition from drawing board concept to commercial reality. In the latest news from the ongoing development program which officially got underway in 2007, Aeros has announced the beginning of the final assembly of the Aeros 40D Sky Dragon airship technology demonstrator which will be used to flight-qualify the key enabling technologies on which the ML866 will be based. As an airborne test bed, it is envisioned that the Aeros 40D will provide both risk and cost reduction, as well as time savings for the program which could see flight testing of the huge 210 ft (64 m) long by 118 ft (36 m) wide by 56 ft (17 m) high VTOL craft as early as 2010.
Itself no minnow at 152.8 ft / 46.6 m long, the FAA Type Certified Aeros-40D Sky Dragon Airship (or "blimp") was designed to carry surveillance and monitoring payloads for military as well as commercial purposes like TV broadcasting, and can also be used as an aerial platform for advertising. As a technology demonstrator for the ML866 it offers the advantage of being able to test components in flight and allows modifications in parallel to main vehicle construction. Systems to be tested on the Sky Dragon include the buoyancy, low speed control, flight management system and numerous flight critical subsystems.