The world’s largest aircraft is no more, at least temporarily. For years, the largest operational aircraft has been the Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) Airlander 10, a giant blimp-like contraption that can hold around 20 passengers and bares resemblance to a certain piece of human anatomy, some have said.
The company built a prototype vehicle to test the concept, but according to HAV, that prototype is being retired. That’s not the end for the concept however, because the Airlander 10 is going to go into full production for a new prototype that will eventually serve commercial purposes.
According to the BBC, HAV is shifting toward manufacturing multiple Airlander 10s for commercial uses. HAV is able to do this now that it has secured permission from the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority to fly passengers in its Airlanders. The airship will be able to hold 19 passengers and ferry them to all manner of remote locations.
The Airlander 10 took to the skies over the course of six test flights, enduring a crash in 2016 when the helium-filled craft scraped a power line, causing it to slowly sink back to the ground. HAV experienced another setback in 2017 when Airlander 10 detached from its moorings mid-flight, deflating the aircraft like a balloon and injuring a woman onboard.
Speaking of the aircraft’s retirement, HAV’s CEO Stephen McGlennan told The Guardian:
“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. As a result, we do not plan to fly the prototype aircraft again.”
McGlennan also noted the company’s primary focus will be “bringing the first batch of production-standard, type-certified Airlander 10 aircraft into service with customers.”
If everything goes according to plan, the company’s vision will be realized when the commercial Airlander 10 is launched in the early 2020s.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics