World’s Largest Aircraft Crashes, Gently, in 2nd Test Flight
It was a slow and gentle plunge: The world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10, crashed in southern England on Wednesday during its second test flight.
In a video posted on YouTube, spectators could be heard saying, “Oh my God, he just crashed it,” as the nose of the aircraft made contact with the ground after an agonizingly slow descent at Cardington Airfield, about 40 miles north of London, before coming to rest.
Hybrid Air Vehicles — the British developer of the 302-foot, 44,100-pound, helium-filled aircraft, which has a top cruising speed of about 90 miles an hour — said on Twitter that the crew members were “safe and well.”
这架氦气飞行器的英国制造商混合动力飞行器公司(Hybrid Air Vehicles)在Twitter上表示，飞行人员“安全无恙”。这架飞行器长302英尺（约合92米），重4.41万磅（约合2万公斤），最高巡航速度约为90英里/每小时。
“Airlander sustained damage on landing during today’s flight,” the company added, though “no damage was sustained midair.”
The first test flight of the Airlander 10 was postponed on Aug. 14 after Stephen McGlennan, the chief executive of Hybrid Air Vehicles, said the airship had “a slight technical issue.” It completed its initial test flight three days later.
On Wednesday morning, however, spectators watched as the ship slowly nose-dived and made an unplanned landing on its cockpit. The company did not provide an explanation as to why the aircraft had come down.
“It was going so well,” said Angela Hatwell, who posted several photographs of the aircraft on Facebook and described the airship’s flight as an “absolutely amazing sight.”
“It was awful to watch,” she wrote of the crash.
One of Ms. Hartwell’s photographs showed the pilots in what appeared to be a damaged cockpit. “It just appeared to crumple up,” she wrote. “Luckily they appeared to walk away uninjured.”
The Airlander 10 was initially a project developed for the United States military, and Hybrid Air Vehicles has said the airship could stay airborne for up to five days at a time with someone on board and for two weeks when flown remotely.