The world’s longest aircraft is set to go into production and will offer intrepid holidaymakers “luxury expeditions” around the globe.
It comes after the 302ft (92m) long prototype of the Airlander 10 was retired following successful final testing.
Bedford-based firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said it had reached a “significant milestone” after being granted production organisation approval (POA) by the Civil Aviation Authority.
A prototype of the aircraft built in 2012 was named Martha Gwyn after the company chairman’s wife, but it became popularly known as “the flying bum” due to its shape.
The prototype was damaged in 2016 when it nose-dived and crashed during a test flight in 2016.
It also collapsed in November 2017 after coming loose from its moorings, with both incidents happening at its former base at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire.
HAV now hopes the full commercial model will take to the skies with its first paying passengers “in the early 2020s”, although there is no word yet on the price of a ticket.
The combined plane and airship will feature en-suite bedrooms, fine dining, and seating areas with “horizon to horizon views”.
HAV and Design Q unveiled the Airlander 10 passenger cabin at the Farnborough Airshow in 2018.
In the prototype-stage it was reported that the aircraft will have a maximum speed of around 91mph.
The tourism-focused, eco-friendly aircraft is intended to offer a leisurely voyage of the skies.
Some of the cabins will have glass floors allowing passengers to take in the views from 16,000ft.
A HAV spokesperson said: “Passengers on Airlander will have luxurious private en-suite bedrooms and will be able to enjoy horizon-to-horizon views in the aircraft’s extensive Infinity Lounge.
“The Altitude Bar will offer drinks with the ultimate view, while 18 guests can enjoy fine dining in the skies.”
The firm claims the part-plane, part-airship will be able to take-off and land on “virtually any flat surface”, as well as being able to visit locations which cannot be reached by existing transport methods.
HAV chief executive Stephen McGlennan said: “Air travel has become very much about getting from A to B as quickly as possible. What we’re offering is a way of making the journey a joy.”
The company believes Airlander 10 could also be used for surveillance, communications, delivering aid and search and rescue missions.
David Lindley, HAV’s head of aviation safety and quality assurance, said: “The POA approval is a significant milestone for HAV. It is the culmination of months of hard work and focused effort.
“It demonstrates that the safety, quality assurance, and supply chain management processes are in place, along with the production facility.
HAV was offered design organisation approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency for the project in October 2018.