Airlander 10, world's largest aircraft, crashes in Bedfordshire

Adam Bennett
Airlander 10 lies on the ground at Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire - PA

Two people were left injured after the world's longest aircraft broke free from its moorings and crashed into a field.

Airlander 10, which is 92 metres long and weighs 20 tonnes, broke free from a mooring mast on Saturday in Cardington, Bedfordshire.

One female member of staff had to be taken to hospital following the incident.

Owner Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd said it appeared the Airlander broke free from its mooring mast, triggering a safety system which deflates the aircraft.

One female member of staff had to be taken to hospital following the incident Credit: REUTERS

A second member of staff was also injured dealing with the aftermath of the crash which officials from the Air accident Investigation Branch are now investigating.

The aircraft, which 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 is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

"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.

"This is a safety feature to ensure our aircraft minimises any potential damage to its surroundings in these circumstances.

"The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield. The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.

"A member of HAV staff sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital for assessment as a precaution. She has since been discharged.

"A separate member of staff also sustained minor injuries while dealing with the aftermath of the incident.

"A number of local roads and a local footpath were temporarily closed off by Bedfordshire Police and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused local residents.

Airlander 10 is 92 metres long and weighs 20 tonnes. It broke free from a mooring mast on Saturday Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

"We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development.

"We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks."

The company hope that Airlander, which can carry 10 tonnes and up to 60 passengers, will be used for luxury commercial flights over the world's greatest sights from 2019.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is aware and are making initial inquiries."