Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) Airlander aircraft broke free from its mooring mast at Cardington Airfield in the UK on November 18 causing a safety system to deflate the vehicle.
A member of HAV staff sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital for assessment as a precaution, but was later discharged. Another member of staff also sustained minor injuries while dealing with the aftermath of the incident, whose causes are now under investigation.
HAV has revealed in a statement that the aircraft has a safety system that operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, ripping open the hull and deflating the aircraft. This feature is designed to minimize any potential damage to the aircraft’s surroundings in such circumstances. The aircraft was deflated and secured on the edge of the airfield, and its fuel and the helium inside made safe.
Late the previous day, Hybrid Air Vehicles’ test team, led by chief test pilot Dave Burns, took Airlander on its sixth test flight, the first in the next stage of its expanded flight tests. In the next stage of flight testing, known as Airworthiness Release 2a (AWR2a), Airlander will fly higher, faster, further and for longer than in prior testing.
“We are testing a brand-new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development,” said the company. “We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks.”
November 23, 2017