Airlander Deflates After Breaking Free
The Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander broke free from its mooring mast at Cardington Airfield in England but a uniquely dramatic safety feature prevented it from running amok. Airlander reported on Saturday that after leaving its moorings, an onboard system ripped open the hull and deflated the enormous aircraft so it ended up crumpled on the edge of the airfield. “The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield,” the company said in a Facebook post. “The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.” One staff member was slightly injured but was checked at a local hospital and released.
It’s not clear how or why the massive aircraft, which is an inflatable flying wing design, came loose and that’s being investigated. It was the second accident involving the prototype of the part lighter-than-air, part aerodynamic aircraft. On an earlier flight, the aircraft was heavily damaged in a nose-first landing. The company is philosophical about the mishap. “We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development,” the company said in the post. “We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks."