Airlander 10 'will be rebuilt' after collapsing at airfield

Media caption,
The Airlander collapsed at Cardington Airfield, where it is based

The world's longest aircraft will be rebuilt after it collapsed hours after a successful test flight, the firm behind it said.

The Airlander 10 - a combination of a plane and an airship - collapsed on Saturday at its Bedfordshire base.

Owner Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd said the aircraft appeared to have broken its moorings, triggering a safety system which deflates it.

It said "the company will keep going" but that fundraising had been "paused".

An email to shareholders said: "We have paused for the time being collecting any payments in respect of the current fundraising and will be back in touch once we have determined our best course of action."

The damage assessment is expected to take "weeks" according to a spokesman.

No-one was on board when the collapse happened, but two people on the ground suffered minor injuries.

Image source, SBNA
Image caption,
A team of inspectors has begun assessing the damage

A number of Airlander enthusiasts were at the scene on Monday. One of them, Arthur Flowerdew, said: "I'm pretty gutted to see how it is now, compared to what is was.

"I just loved looking at the airship, I wonder if it will ever fly again."

Another, Paul Evan, said: "It's really sad and disappointing. It had so much potential but hopefully it will rise again."

At the scene: Mike Cartwright, BBC Look East correspondent

Airlander is a huge deflated lump where it crash landed on the airfield's edge.

Thrown about by the wind, today it is too dangerous to move.

An Airlander team is on site to figure out how to recover it, looking into the crash on behalf of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

What is the future of Airlander? At the moment it's an airship company without an aircraft.

Image source, Hybrid Air Vehicles
Image caption,
How it should look: Airlander 10 completed its sixth test flight on Friday

The incident happened less than 24 hours after the Airlander's successful test flight, on Friday.

It had taken off at 15:11 GMT and landed at 16:18 GMT at Cardington Airfield.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd said at the time it was in the "next phase of extended test flights".

But after the collapse, it said: "We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development."

Airlander 10 was first developed for the US government as a surveillance aircraft but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks.

After reviving the craft, Hybrid Air Vehicles claimed it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.

In August 2016 it crash-landed, after climbing to an excessive height because its mooring line became caught on power cables.

The 302ft (92m) long aircraft nosedived after the test flight at Cardington. No-one was injured.

Image source, sbna
Image caption,
The front of Airlander 10 hit the ground on its return to Cardington Airfield in 2016

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