AAIB completes investigation into mooring mast detachment

The AAIB and HAV have completed their investigations into the mooring mast detachment of the prototype Airlander 10-001 at Cardington, Bedfordshire on 18th November 2017.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited has been informed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch that, after reviewing HAV’s comprehensive internal investigation report, the AAIB has decided to reclassify the November 2017 mooring mast detachment of the prototype Airlander 10-001 as "Non-Reportable". As a result of this finding, the AAIB will not be publishing a report and will close its files on the event. In his letter to HAV, the Inspector of Air Accidents in charge of the investigation wrote:

"On reviewing the comprehensive report provided by HAV to the AAIB, it was concluded that the findings relate only to HAV and there are no wider safety messages that would benefit the general public. That, coupled with the fact that the aircraft was not intending to fly at the time of the incident, led to the decision to downgrade the investigation."

On the morning of Saturday 18th November, the prototype Airlander 10-001 detached from its mooring mast at Cardington, Bedfordshire. The detachment triggered the in-built hull deflation mechanism, which operated until the aircraft came to rest on the airfield’s perimeter fencing. Following the event, HAV launched an internal investigation to establish the chain of events and determine what led to the de-masting.

A key part of the internal investigation was a detailed assessment of the critical aircraft parts and assemblies. This assessment confirmed that there was no evidence of structural or functional failure of the aircraft that could have led to the de-masting. This assessment did, however, confirm that the root cause of the mooring mast detachment was a failure to correctly secure the locking mechanism between the aircraft and its mooring mast, which was not detected. The investigation showed that it was possible to insert the mast locking safety pins in an incorrect position without obvious indications of this being the case, and that this had occurred on completion of Airlander’s test flight on 17th November 2017. This resulted in the aircraft being attached to the mooring mast in an undetected unlocked condition, allowing it to detach from the mooring mast in the light winds experienced on the morning of 18th November 2017.

The internal report recommends a number of corrective and preventative actions to improve the mooring mast locking mechanism and to address all other factors that contributed to the incorrect application of the mast locks, to minimise the possibility of similar events in future. The aircraft design team has begun implementing these actions as it moves from the prototype to the production variant of Airlander.


For more information about Airlander and HAV, please visit www.hybridairvehicles.com. Please direct enquiries to media@hybridairvehicles.net.
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Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded Production Organisation Approval from the Civil Aviation Authority. As 2018 came to a close, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) awarded Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd a Production Organisation Approval. Following the successful award of our Design Organisation Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in October 2018, this latest achievement sees HAV starting 2019 in a strong position to launch production. A Production Organisation Approval (POA) considers the manufacture and assembly aspects of aircraft production. This includes supply chain management, processes relating to manufacture and assembly, and the production facility itself. Both the Design Organisation Approval (DOA), which covers design activities and flight test, and the POA, covering manufacture and assembly, are required to move forward into a type certification programme with the production Airlander 10. Being awarded the POA in 2018 is a remarkable achievement. It typically takes over a year to prepare a facility for a POA audit. HAV only moved into our production facility, the Airlander Technology Centre, in June and were able to be audit-ready in under six months. This success is down to the effort of the Production team, led by Ivor Pope. In addition to preparing the facility, the team at Technology House has been working to establish rigorous supply chain and quality assurance processes. "The POA approval is a significant milestone for HAV. It is the culmination of months of hard work and focused effort," comments David Lindley, HAV’s Head of Aviation Safety & Quality Assurance. "It demonstrates that the safety, quality assurance, and supply chain management processes are in place, along with the production facility." "Successfully being awarded our POA in the same year as our DOA is fantastic," adds Executive Director Nick Allman. "The POA is the regulator’s stamp of approval for us to move ahead with the productionisation of Airlander 10 on the path to type certification. This puts us in a great position going into 2019."  

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