Sunday 26 January 2020

Largest aircraft in the world crashes during test flight after revamp

The crashed Airlander in Bedford, England, yesterday Picture: PA
The crashed Airlander in Bedford, England, yesterday Picture: PA

Dean Gray

The world's largest aircraft has crashed during its second test flight since being revamped in the UK.

Airlander 10, a 92m-long part plane, part helicopter and part airship, was damaged at its base at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, yesterday.

The Airlander suffered cockpit damage. Photographs showed the aircraft on the ground with its nose pointing towards the floor.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), which is developing Airlander 10, said all the crew were "safe and well".

A spokesman said: "The flight went really well and the only issue was when it landed." The company has denied claims from a witness that a line hanging down from the vehicle hit a telegraph pole about two fields away from its landing.

First developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft, the British firm launched a campaign to return the craft to the sky after it fell foul of defence cutbacks. It is about 15m longer than the biggest passenger jets and uses helium to become airborne, travelling at up to 150kph.

The Airlander successfully completed its first test flight without incident on August 17. It performed one lap of the airfield before landing about half an hour later.

That was set to be the beginning of 200 hours of test flights for the 44m-wide and 26m-high craft, which will be able to stay airborne for about five days during manned flights.

HAV claims it could be used for surveillance, communications, delivering aid and passenger travel.

Irish Independent

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