World's largest aircraft dubbed the £25m 'giant bum' gets inflatable 'landing feet' after crashing into power lines last year


(WorldKings) The world’s largest aircraft has been given a pair of inflatable ‘landing feet’ in the hope of protecting the £25million ‘giant bum’ if it were to suffer a repeat of its test flight crash in August last year.

The Airlander 10 airship, which earned the nickname the ‘giant bum’ because of its appearance, nose-dived and careered into power lines in an accident at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire.

No-one was injured but the cockpit was destroyed in the crash on August 24, 2016.

Now, eight months on and after extensive tests, two three-metre inflatable plinths have been added which a spokesman said ‘will stop the cockpit from ever getting damaged again’. 

A spokesman for Hybrid Air Vehicles said: ‘If we had the same series of events, having the feet now would stop the cockpit from getting damaged.’

The inflatables are an additional set to help protect the cockpit when landing. They are stowed during flight but are deployed as the plane comes in to land. 

A report by The Air Accidents Investigation Branch found the 320ft long airship was flying at an excessive height when it prepared to land.

It 'suddenly pitched down to about 18 degrees and started to descend' after its mooring line got tangled up.

A spokesman for Hybrid Air Vehicles said internal experts came up with 63 recommendations for improvements – including the installation of the inflatable airbags which resemble ‘feet’.


Nick Allman, programmes director at Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), said: 'What we've done is put in 63 changes - some to the aircraft but most to process, procedure, and training - so that sort of event is extremely unlikely to ever happen again

'We had to look at how you stop 35 tonnes of airship coming down and squashing that composite flightdeck area.

'It will give us no drag [and] no change in how the aircraft flies normally.'

Christened the Martha Gwyn, the vast aircraft measures 302ft long and is around 50ft longer than the biggest passenger jets.

Engineers spent three years working on the Airlander 10, which is filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium - enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

HAV said the repairs and changes were now complete and, following 'an extensive test phase', it is hoped Airlander will take to the skies again by the end of April. 


After the crash in August, aviation experts estimated the damage would cost in the region of £20,000 unique nature of the project.

In a video of the crash stunned witnesses could be heard voicing concerns.

At first one man watching it said: 'Surely you'd be worried that you're just going to smash that into the ground.'


He then added: 'Oh my God, he’s actually just broken it. He's just smashed that up.'

One eyewitness said: 'A line that was hanging down from the plane hit the telegraph pole about two fields away. Then, as it came in to land, it seemed to nose dive and landed on the cockpit, smashing it up.'

Martha Gwyn was created at Cardington, where the manufacture of British airships began during the First World War. It has been billed as a modern milestone in airships, which were all but abandoned after two horrific disasters in the last century.

Almost 50 people, including Britain's air minister, died when the British airship crashed on a hill in Beauvais, France, leading to questions over the safety of airships.

In 1937 crash of the Hindenburg in New Jersey then killed 35 people, finally dashing the dream of the airship as a mode of transportation for decades.

But unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg, the Airlander uses helium, which is not flammable.

The company hopes to have an even bigger aircraft, capable of carrying 50 metric tons (110,000 pounds), in service by the early 2020s.  



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