The Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, was damaged after a bad landing on its second test flight in the east of England.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd., the British manufacturer, is investigating the causes of the bad landing after a 100-minute flight in Bedfordshire, north of London. According to a spokesperson said of the U.K. government’s Air Accident Investigation Branch, an investigation has begun regarding the incident.

The world's longest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, has crash-landed after a test flight in Bedfordshire, central England. Image Credit: Forbes
The world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, has crash-landed after a test flight in Bedfordshire, central England. Image Credit: Forbes

“The Airlander experienced a heavy landing, and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage, which is currently being assessed. Both pilots and the ground crew are safe and well, and the aircraft is secured and stable at its normal mooring location,” claimed the company in a statement.

The Airlander 10

The aircraft is a hybrid between an airplane, a blimp, and a helicopter, and has a length of 298 ft 7 in, 50 feet longer than the biggest passenger plane. The Airlander use less fuel than a traditional aircraft and can also carry heavier cargo, approximately ten tons at a maximum speed of ninety-one miles per hour.

The aircraft has no internal structure, maintaining its shape thanks to 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its ultralight carbon fiber hull, with four powerful engines that permit it to stay on the air for up to five days if manned, and more than two weeks if unmanned, at a time.

Initially developed for the US military to use in Afghanistan, the idea is now to utilize it as a commercial aircraft, for delivering aid, surveillance, passenger travel, and communications.

A shot from inside Airlander 10's hangar in England. Image Credit: Fortune
A shot from inside Airlander 10’s hangar in England. Image Credit: Fortune

The company raised over 3.4 million pounds thanks to two crowdfunding campaigns. It also received funding from the Uk government and a grant from the European Union. Hybrid Air Vehicles wants to build ten Airlarders a year by 2021 to commercialize them.

The Hindenburg disaster

The Airlander 10 may rekindle the interest on airships. These aircraft have a long history, starting in the nineteenth century. However, with the creation of modern planes their popularity dwindled, and the Hindenburg disaster can be considered the nail in the coffin for airships.

On May 6, 1937, the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and landed at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey, United States. Almost one hundred people were on board, and thirty-six died, including a worker on the ground.

Nonetheless, what brought attention to the disaster was the newsreel coverage footage shot hot by Al Gold of Fox Movietone News, the hundreds of photographs taken and Herbert Morrison’s radio eyewitness reports. Morrison’s recording on the site of the accident became one of the most famous news coverages in history.

This media coverage was the cause of the shift in public perception regarding the airships, since there had been many other accidents before this one, and the Hindenburg had flown 1.6 million kilometers with no irregularities before the fire.

The disaster has stayed in popular culture, being featured in two films, various novels, including “Passage” by Connie Willis. Hindenburg’s crash has also been mentioned in TV shows such as Entourage, Seinfeld, The Sopranos, Family Guy and the Simpsons. Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album, released in 1969, also features a picture of the disaster on its cover.

Source: BBC