SINGAPORE: The commercial version of the world's largest aircraft will soon go into production and may be able to carry passengers by the early 2020s, reported the BBC on Sunday (Jan 13).
The 92m long Airlander 10 prototype - a hybrid of a blimp, helicopter and plane - first took off for test flights in 2016, said the Associated Press (AP).
The Airlander 10 was formally retired after its successful final testing, despite collapsing in November 2017 after completing its sixth successful test flight, reported the BBC.
The firm behind the aircraft, Hybrid Air Vehicles, has since received Production Organisation Approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said AP.
Additionally, the BBC reported that the firm was given Design Organisation Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) in October.
This means that Hybrid Air Vehicles will focus on developing and producing a new commercial Airlander model, added AP.
The BBC noted that approval from the CAA and Easa put the firm in a "strong position to launch production".
The US$41 million Airlander 10 was designed to stay aloft for up to five days at a time if manned, and for over two weeks unmanned with a cruising speed of just under 150km per hour and a payload capacity of up to 10,000kg, said the company, according to AFP.
It also utilised less fuel as compared to a plane, but was able to carry heavier loads than conventional airships, added AP.
"The prototype served its purpose as the world's first full-sized hybrid aircraft, providing us with the data we needed to move forward from prototype to production standard," said Hybrid Air Vehicles' chief executive Stephen McGlennan as quoted by the BBC.