The first of a fleet of Airlander 10 aircraft could be gracing the skies and carrying passengers by this time next year, it has been revealed.
Hybrid Air Vehicles staff are working from their new ‘secret’ premises in Bedford to begin official production.
They are this week celebrating getting the final regulatory approval to allow them to start work on the new craft.
“HAV is focused on bringing the production-standard Airlander 10 aircraft into service with customers,” said a spokesman.
Because it will incorporate passenger seats, the new model will be longer than the old prototype, which suffered irreparable damage when it broke free from its tether at Cardington airfield in November 2017.
The HAV spokesman said: “The aircraft we flew over Bedfordshire previously, the prototype aircraft, gave us the data we needed to move forward with the production aircraft.
“Our goal is to have the production-standard, type certified Airlander 10 in service with customers in the early 2020s.”
She added: “The reason this is so exciting is that it’s real progress. While it may not be as visible as the prototype flying overhead, achieving both our Design Organisation Approval and Production Organisation Approval was the culmination of a lot of hard work and a tangible step towards our goal.
“This puts us in a great position for the year ahead.”