A prototype of the world’s longest aircraft, dubbed the “flying bum”, will not be rebuilt but engineers are set to “rethink the skies” with a production-ready model. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the UK-based company that created Airlander 10, has already received Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval, and it is hoped the new airship model will take to the skies by the early 2020s. “Our focus is now entirely on bringing the first batch of production-standard, type-certified Airlander 10 aircraft into service with customers,” said Stephen McGlennan, the company’s chief executive. “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.” The Airlander 10 prototype undertook six test flights, some of which ended in chaos, but the company stressed it was their decision not to rebuild the aircraft, saying it had done its job, successfully completed final testing and gathered an immense amount of data in the process. The Airlander 10 crashed in 2016 on its second test flight after a successful 30-minute maiden voyage. The company tweeted at the time: “Airlander sustained damage on landing during today’s flight. No damage was sustained mid-air or as a result of a telegraph pole as reported. Another mishap befell the 92-metre-long (302 feet), 44-metre-wide craft in 2017 when a woman was taken to hospital after its hull automatically deflated when the vessel came loose from its moorings. McGlennan said: “Many people ask me this question – when will Airlander be flying again? My answer is this – look for many, many Airlanders flying again, ready to be delivered to customers and used around the world.” The original £25 million (US$32 million) model was first developed as a surveillance aircraft for the US army, and its first flight took place in 2012 before the programme was cancelled in 2013. HAV then reacquired it, reassembling the part-plane, part-airship and its four diesel engine-driven propellers at RAF Cardington, Bedfordshire, where it was being modified for civilian use. The company said it was in a “strong position to launch production” of the new aircraft, with the design already approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency.