News arrived last week that the world’s biggest aircraft, the helium-filled plane/airship Airlander 10, had completed its maiden voyage in Bedfordshire, UK. Today, a second test flight took place. Sadly, this one wasn’t quite as successful – the aircraft crashed into the ground as it came in to land.
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) – the company that built the Airlander 10 – said on its Facebook page: "We're debriefing following the second test flight this morning. All crew are safe and well and there are no injuries."
An eyewitness account claimed that a line hanging from the aircraft had hit a telephone pole, causing it to crash. The company has since denied this, calling the impact a "heavy landing," but it did admit that Airlander sustained some damage, believed to be in the cockpit.
A spokesperson for HAV said that other than the crash, the rest of the 100 minute flight passed without any problems. "The flight went really well and the only issue was when it landed," they told the BBC.
At 302 feet long, the Airlander 10 is about 50 feet longer than the world’s biggest passenger planes. It has a carbon fiber hull filled with 38,000 cubic meters of pressurized helium, and its four 325hp, 4 litre V8 direct injection, turbo-diesel engines drive the four propellers.
During last week’s maiden flight, the Airlander reach an altitude of 500 feet and hit a top speed of 40 mph. It flew in a six mile area, taking off and landing without any incidents.
The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch has confirmed it is investigating the crash, but said it would not be sending a team to the site.