We’ve featured the HAV Airlander 10 prototype aircraft before in a previous article, how it was once a US military project that was thrown out because of defense budget cuts and rescued by the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles which had built the craft for the Americans, how it was a unique blend of balloon, plane and helicopter with impressive carrying weight and flight duration (even longer when unmanned), how early this August it had embarked on its maiden voyage over England to prove its proof of concept much to HAV’s satisfaction and the amusement of onlookers who have nicknamed the strange looking machine as the “Flying Butt”.
Celebration over its successful maiden voyage may have been a tad premature though, as during its second scheduled test flight this Wednesday august 24, the Airlander abruptly turned slightly nose- down in the middle of its landing approach and, quite frankly, crashed to the ground, though HAV opines that it was more of a “heavy landing”.
A statement the company released shortly after the crash said, "The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed." They clarified that despite apparent damage to the cockpit section from the rough landing, the test flight crew was safe with no injuries.
The Independent further reports that eyewitnesses at the test area claim to have spotted the culprit for the accident: as the Airlander was making its final approach to the landing zone, a line trailing from the bottom of the aircraft caught on an electrical post a few fields away from the landing zone.
When the vessel was making to ease down, the tangled line made the nose point downward. This account has yet to be verified by HAV which has yet to disclose an official report on the cause.
At 300 feet long, the Airlander 10 is about 50 feet longer than the world’s largest passenger jets. It has no internal framework, with its body shaped maintained by the pressure of its helium air supply.
In the air the vessel can potentially go to 92 miles per hour and carry a 10-ton payload. With pilots and passengers the Airlander can remain in flight for about five days straight; as an unmanned drone it can stay for about two weeks. And surprisingly, all of it is worth only £25 million, remarkably cheaper than traditional jet aircraft.
With both civilian and military applications open to the Airlander’s utilization, HAV hopes to be able to produce 10 of them annually for worldwide consumers by 2021. Already they are hard at the drawing board for a new Airlander 50 model, capable of carrying 50 tons of cargo.
Photo Credit to www.huffingtonpost.co.uk