The world’s largest aircraft has suffered a setback after a ‘heavy landing’ at its base Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England.

Airlander 10, nicknamed the ‘Flying Bum’, was hailed as a great British innovation but that might come to a halt.

The £25million 320ft-long airship made its maiden voyage on Wednesday last week and everything seemed to be fine.

But now the aircraft, which can carry a ten-tonne pay load has crashed and suffered cockpit damage. Aviation experts estimated the damage will cost about £20,000 to repair.

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At first one man watching it says: ‘Surely you’d be worried that you’re just going to smash that into the ground.’

And he then adds: ‘Oh my God, he’s actually just broken it. He’s just smashed that up.’

Another eyewitness said: ‘A line that was hanging down from the plane hit the telegraph pole about two fields away. Then, as it came in to land, it seemed to nose dive and landed on the cockpit, smashing it up.’

The Airlander will be able to stay airborne for up to 2 weeks according to the company. It can be used for surveillance, communications, delivering aid and passenger travel.

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A spokesman for Hybrid Air Vehicles said: ‘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.

‘Both pilots and the ground crew are safe and well and 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.’

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The Airlander is designed to use less fuel than a plane, but carry heavier loads than conventional airships. It’s maximum speed is 145kph.

Unlike past airships which used flammable hydrogen, the Airlander is using helium.

Additional reporting by Daily Mail