Beds, Herts & Bucks

Airlander 10: World's longest aircraft gets full-production go-ahead

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Media captionA helicopter captured footage of the Airlander 10 prototype's maiden flight in August 2016

The world's longest aircraft is to go into full production with a model that will take its first paying passengers.

It comes after the prototype £32m Airlander 10 - a combined plane and airship - was formally retired following successful final testing.

As a result, Bedford firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has been given Production Organisation Approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Airlander 10 hit the headlines in 2017, when the prototype collapsed.

An eyewitness said the aircraft appeared to "break in two" after breaking its moorings and deflating, in November that year, less than 24 hours after completing its sixth successful test flight.

The firm was given Design Organisation Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) in October.

Image copyright sbna
Image caption The Airlander collapsed on 18 November 2017

Stephen McGlennan, HAV's chief executive, said 2018 had been very good, with Easa's backing a "huge highlight".

He said the firm had changed its focus last year towards the production of Airlander 10 as a commercial aircraft for customers.

"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," he said.

It is now hoped the full commercial model will take to the skies with its first paying passengers "in the early 2020s".

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HAV submitted a £32m insurance claim after the prototype crash, telling its shareholders this was the "maximum insured value".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Airlander 10 was originally based at Cardington Airfield

Approval from the CAA and Easa now puts the firm in a "strong position to launch production".

HAV carried out its first test flight of Airlander 10 from its former home at Cardington Airfield in August 2016 but left the site in June last year.

In July, it revealed it planned to offer "luxury expeditions" once all tests were successfully completed.

  • CORRECTION: This article has been revised to make it clear the prototype of Airlander 10 has been withdrawn after successfully completing final testing. It also clarifies that Hybrid Air Vehicles has been given the required certification from all air authorities to begin full commercial production of its aircraft.

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