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Airlander test ends in nosediveAirlander test ends in nosedive

None hurt in mishapNone hurt in mishap

This was certainly not the kind of publicity Hybrid Air Vehicles must have hoped for. Airlander 10, a large dirigible designed to haul 10 tons of cargo and stay aloft for days, was damaged during its second test flight when the 302-foot craft nosed into the ground in what the British firm that launched the craft described as a “heavy landing” on Aug. 24. A video posted on YouTube by a spectator had been viewed more than 3 million times within the first 24 hours.

The video shows the massive craft plunging slowly, nose-first, into the ground, then bouncing just as slowly back to horizontal with visible damage to the cockpit (damage that is made clearer in other images uploaded by spectators to social media and re-posted by CNN).

The Airlander 10 began life as a U.S. Army project built by Northrop Grumman, which launched a prototype in 2012 in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The dirigible (a blimp-like airship with a rigid inner frame) was grounded when the government pulled the plug.

Hybrid Air Vehicles built and flew the Airlander 10 at a facility north of London, England, and raised a reported $4.4 million through crowdfunding. Plans remain on the drawing board for a larger version able to tote 50 tons of cargo and remain aloft for days.

It remains unclear what caused the Aug. 24 mishap. The company released a brief statement on social media, which notes the crew was unharmed but does not speculate on the cause of the incident, which is also under investigation by British authorities.

Hybrid Air Vehicles is one of two companies working to develop large dirigibles for cargo hauling and other applications. A Los Angeles company, Aeroscraft, is working on a similar design that is expected to have a 65-ton cargo capacity.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web
Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Topics: Airship, Technology

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