World’s largest aircraft rips and collapses

A woman has been injured after the world’s largest aircraft came loose from its moorings, causing it to rip and deflate.

Airlander 10, a hybrid airship that is part-plane, collapsed in Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, following the incident at about 9.30am on Saturday.

The woman was taken to hospital as a precaution after she suffered minor injuries.

The mishap follows the £25m aircraft’s first flight in May after it crashed in August last year.

During that incident, in which no one was injured, the 50ft-long aircraft nose-dived and crashed, severely damaging its cockpit.

Manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is set to launch an investigation into why the aircraft, which is the length of a football pitch, broke free but said its hull was designed to rip open and deflate in the event of coming loose.

The deflated Airlander 10 aircraft in Bedfordshire

Image: The deflated Airlander 10 aircraft in Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire

In a statement, it said: “The aircraft was not flying at the time of the incident. Our initial assessment is that the aircraft broke free from its mooring mast for reasons that will be investigated.

“The aircraft has a safety system which operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, and is designed to rip open the hull and deflate the aircraft.

“This is a safety feature to ensure our aircraft minimises any potential damage to its surroundings in these circumstances. The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield. The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.”

The firm also said another person had suffered minor injuries while dealing with the aftermath of the incident.

HAV added: “We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development.

“We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks.”

It comes after Twitter users expressed their delight at seeing the Airlander flying on Friday, with one calling the sight “fabulous”.

The Airlander, which uses helium to fly and can carry 10 tonnes of cargo, can be used for surveillance, passenger travel and delivering aid, according to HAV.