Airlander 10, world's longest aircraft breaks free, crashes

Airlander 10, the world's longest aircraft broke free from its moorings and crashed into a field. The 92 metre long, 20-tonne aircraft broke free from a mooring mast on Saturday in Cardington, Bedfordshire injuring two people.

A female member of staff was hospitalised following the incident.

According to owner Hybrid Air Vehicles, it appeared the Airlander broke free from its mooring mast, triggering a safety system which deflates the aircraft.

A second member of staff also sustained injuries dealing with the aftermath of the crash. The accident is under investigation by officials from the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

The aircraft, which had suffered a similar mishap last August, had completed a series of test flights on Friday and was moored near its hanger when it broke free.

Hybrid Air Vehicles said, "Today there was an incident with the Airlander aircraft at Cardington airfield.

"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.''

Air Hybrid said, "the company will keep going" but fundraising had been "paused".

The company said in an email to shareholders, "We have paused for the time being collecting any payments in respect of the current fundraising and will be back in touch once we have determined our best course of action."

According to a spokesman, the damage assessment is expected to take weeks.

The aircraft was first developed for the US government as a surveillance aircraft but the project had to be shelved due to defence cutbacks.

After it was revived, Hybrid Air Vehicles claimed it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.