LONDON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — The blimp-like Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, crashed, slowly and gently, on its second flight Wednesday.
The 300-foot-long plane nosedived into a field in Bedfordshire as it returned to the Royal Air Force base at Cardington, near London, and sustained front-end damage. There were no injuries to the two pilots aboard, or to the ground crew.
“Today the prototype Airlander 10 undertook its second test flight and flew for 100 minutes, completing all the planned tasks before returning to Cardington to land. The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed,” a statement from Hybrid Air Vehicles, the British company which manufactured the aircraft, said.
The Airlander 10 is 50 feet longer than the biggest passenger plane, and completed its first flight last week, staying aloft for 20 minutes. A 90-minute trip was planned.
The plane has four engines and no internal framework, maintaining its structural integrity from the 38,000 cubic meters (49,700 cubic yards) of helium within its hull.
It is designed to stay in the air, manned with pilots, for up to five days, or unmanned for up to two weeks, and can carry up to 10 tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 91 miles per hour, its manufacturers said.