Just one day after successfully completing its sixth test flight, the Airlander 10 has suffered a major setback. According to reports, the world's largest aircraft apparently broke free of its mooring mast on Saturday morning and was deflated as a safety precaution. An investigation is underway.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) says the aircraft was not flying when the incident occurred. The Airlander 10 broke away from its mooring mast and drifted as far as the edge of the airfield at Cardington, UK, before a built-in safety system kicked in. This system is designed to automatically rip open the hull to deflate the aircraft, grounding it and preventing it from causing any more damage to itself or its surroundings.

Hybrid Air Vehicles says the craft is designed to deflate automatically in just such an emergency, to prevent it damaging itself or its surroundings(Credit: BCH Road Policing via Twitter)

Two HAV staff reportedly sustained minor injuries, with one being taken to hospital to be assessed, before being discharged a short time later. The incident also resulted in the closure of a few local roads and paths.

The company says the aircraft has been secured, and the fuel and helium it was carrying have been made safe. An investigation will be carried out to determine just how the craft came free of its moorings in the first place.

"We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development," HAV says in a statement. "We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks."

This isn't the first incident to befall the Airlander 10. In August 2016, just a week after its maiden flight, the craft "experienced a heavy landing" when it struck the ground nose-first, during its second test flight.

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