World's biggest aircraft 'the flying bum' hopes to return to skies soon

  • Video Report by ITV News Reporter Olivia Kinsley

Getting back behind the controls after you've crashed the world's largest aircraft - also known as the 'flying bum' - can be a little nerve-wracking.

But that's exactly what pilot Simon Davies is preparing to do as he practices in a flight simulator.

Back in August, Mr Davies and Chief Test Pilot David Burns took Airlander 10, a 302ft-long part-helicopter, part-aircraft on a test voyage near its base in Bedfordshire.

Despite having previously flown Tornados, Mr Davies's biggest test came when Airlander 10 crashed at little over 5mph.

Mr Davies says the accident happened because the pilots tried a steeper descent after realising a rope was hanging dangerously before the ground.

But as they came into land, Airlander crashed.

"It was pretty uncomfortable because we knew we were about to damage the aircraft", Mr Davies says.

"But the speeds involved were quite low. It was immediately apparent that everybody was fine - although we'd damaged the aircraft - and David, the other pilot, and I walked away without a scratch".

Pilot Simon Davies prepares himself in the flight simulator Credit: ITV News

Asked whether he was scared, Mr Davies says: Yes, it was a little alarming. But again you accept that this is flight test - things sometimes don't go according to plan.

"You dust yourself off and try again".

Now Airlander is grounded in a hangar in Bedfordshire, with engineers making constant checks.

The cockpit was effectively destroyed in the crash, so engineers removed it and are now attempting to repair it.

Airlander 10 is currently grounded in a hangar in Bedfordshire Credit: ITV News

Hybrid Air Vehicles chiefs hope Airlander will be back in the air by early next year.

They insist that the aircraft is safe, but it will take a while before its reputation as unwieldy and unsafe can improve.

This will be one of Hybrid Air Vehicles' biggest challenges if their dream of selling six Airlanders a year by 2019 is to become a reality.