The world's largest aircraft has crashed during its second test flight after being revamped in the UK. The Zeppelin-shaped airship was reportedly damaged after hitting a telegraph pole at its base in Britain.
Airlander 10, a 302 feet-long (92 meter) aircraft that is part blimp, airplane and helicopter, was damaged at its base at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, on Wednesday morning.
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), which is developing the Airlander 10, issued a statement on Facebook: "We're debriefing following the second test flight this morning. All crew are safe and well and there are no injuries."
The accident came exactly a week after Airlander's maiden voyage. It was the second test flight of the airship, which is about 50 feet longer than the biggest passenger jet.
Wednesday's flight was set to be the beginning of 200 hours of test flights for the craft, which will be able to stay airborne for more than two weeks unmanned and up to five days if manned.
Originally developed for the US military as a long-distance surveillance aircraft, British firm HAV launched a campaign to return the craft to the sky after it fell prey to US defense cutbacks.
HAV said the helium-filled craft could also be potentially used in the commercial sector for carrying cargo, surveillance and communications purposes, and even passenger travel. The firm received a British government grant of 2.5 million pounds ($3.7 million, 2.9 million euros) to develop the project.
The Airlander can fly at up to 4,880 meters (6,000 feet) and reach speeds of 148 kilometers per hour (92 miles per hour), according to HAV. The company's chief executive Stephen McGlennan said the aircraft was cheaper and greener than helicopter technology.
"It's a great British innovation. It's a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed wing aircraft, it's got helicopter, it's got airship," he said after its maiden flight on Aug. 17.
Airlander 10's first flight was already delayed due to technical fault, and the company said the problems would be resolved in time for Wednesday's flight.
uhe/cjc (Reuters, AFP)