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World's largest aircraft crashes on second test flight, sustains damage

The world's largest aircraft, the Airlander 10 airship, has crashed and suffered damage on its second test flight on Wednesday.

"Today the prototype Airlander 10 undertook its second test flight and flew for 100 minutes, completing all the planned tasks before returning to Cardington to land. The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed," Hybrid Air Vehicles, a British aviation firm that created the Airlander, said in statement.

The crash happened in Bedfordshire, central England and both pilots and ground crew are "safe and well, " according to the company.

"The aircraft is secured and stable at its normal mooring location. Hybrid Air Vehicles runs a robust set of procedures for flight test activities and investigation of issues. We will be running through these in the days ahead as we continue the development of the Airlander aircraft.," it added.


A man looks at damage to the Airlander 10 hybrid airship after a test flight at Cardington Airfield in Britain, August 24, 2016.
REUTERS | Darren Staples
A man looks at damage to the Airlander 10 hybrid airship after a test flight at Cardington Airfield in Britain, August 24, 2016.

The prototype flew for the first time last Wednesday but it's likely be two years before airships begin to take to the skies for commercial use. The Airlander 10 is vying to become a leader in an industry that could be worth $50 billion over the next 20 years, according to the companies building the aircraft. The inflated flying structures are making a comeback with big players and new challengers promising to develop airships for anything from luxury travel to transporting cargo to remote parts of the world.

Hybrid Air Vehicles' blimp costs around $40 million to buy. As a comparison the cheapest Airbus, the A318 has an average list price of $75.1 million.

—CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.