World’s largest aircraft crashes in England on test flight

LONDON, Aug 24 — The world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, has crash-landed after a test flight in Bedfordshire, central England, its British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles said today.

The airship, which is bigger than the size of six double-decker buses, sustained damage on landing from its second test flight, Hybrid Air Vehicles said, adding that all crew were safe and well following the incident.

Privately owned Hybrid Air Vehicles denied a report on the BBC that the airship had hit a telegraph pole.

“No damage was sustained mid-air,” the company said on Twitter. Hybrid Air Vehicles was not immediately reachable by telephone.

The 92-metre Airlander 10 made its first test flight earlier this month and the company had posted photographs of it up in the air before today’s incident.

Once the concept is proven, Hybrid Air Vehicles hopes the helium-filled giant will be able to stay airborne for up to two weeks, and that potential customers might want to use it to carry cargo or deliver aid, for surveillance, communications or leisure purposes. It can carry 48 passengers.

The Airlander can take off and land vertically meaning it does not need a tarmac runway. It can also operate from open fields, deserts, ice or water.

Airships have a long history stretching back to the 19th century, although their popularity dipped in the face of competition from aeroplanes in the 20th century and high-profile accidents such as the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.

Hybrid Air Vehicles told Reuters in March that it aimed to be building 12 airships a year by 2018. — Reuters

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