The US Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Aeros to operate planned research flights of a new kind of hybrid, heavy-lift airship.
The 81m (266ft)-long proof of design aircraft - now christened the Aeroscraft Dragon Dream - is now allowed to perform a series of vertical take-offs and landings.
"This airworthiness certificate helps us move full speed ahead with testing desired to further accelerate Aeroscraft fleet development," says Aeros chief executive and founder Igor Pasternak.
The tests will examine the performance of Aeros' unique control of static heaviness (COSH) system.
Conventional airships must take on ballast-usually in the form of water or dirt-as they unload cargo, or its static buoyancy will cause the aircraft to float away. Aeros wants to solve that problem by pressurizing the lighter than air gas and replacing the left-over volume with heavier oxygen. If this method works, future hybrid airships will not need extensive ground infrastructure to carry large payloads.
Aeros says it has also frozen the design of the follow-on ML866 and ML868 vehicles, with payloads of 66t and 250t, respectively.
The proof-of-design aircraft, a one-half scaled model of the ML866, was first moved within the Aeros hangar in Southern California last January, with funding provided by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.