THE world's largest aircraft was "ripped apart" today as it broke loose from its moorings and crashed in a field.
One woman was taken to hospital as the £25million Airlander 10 – the size of a football field – ended up slumped in a deflated heap in Cardington, Beds.
An eyewitness said the aircraft "fell to pieces" like a "big gust of wind".
He added: "It was tied down slightly further away from the hangers than normal, then almost like a big gust of wind, it split. Made a hell of a noise."
Cops sealed off nearby roads after the 9.30am crash.
Manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles said two members of staff were injured included a woman who was taken to hospital as a "precaution" and later discharged.
The firm said: "The aircraft was not flying at the time of the incident. Our initial assessment is that the aircraft broke free from its mooring mast for reasons that will be investigated.
"The aircraft has a safety system which operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, and is designed to rip open the hull and deflate the aircraft.
"This is a safety feature to ensure our aircraft minimises any potential damage to its surroundings in these circumstances. The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield. The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.
"We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks."
The aircraft had just undergone its sixth test flight, guided by Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns.
The part-plane, part-airship, is the length of a football pitch, took off on its first flight in May, after a dramatic crash in 2016.
The front nose and cockpit of the Airlander was wrecked, after it experienced a "heavy landing" in Cardington, but there were no injuries.
The Airlander uses helium to become airborne and can carry ten tons of cargo.
It is 302ft (92 metres) long, 143ft (44 metres) wide, 85ft (26 metres) high and can travel at 92mph.
HAV believes it could be used for a variety of functions, such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.
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