Return of the airship

A new article by Air & Space Magazine hints at a return to airships, with a focus on their potential use for heavy lifting in military and commercial applications, as well as a use as a spy platform.  That’s the idea, anyway.  It remains to be seen if the necessary advances in technology will make these behemoths economically viable.  One interesting feature would be that they might not come back in the familiar cigar shape – evidently a sphere is better for balancing out the helium.  Another cool thing would be hover pads that could push or pull on the surface, either to keep the airship above the ground/ice/sea, or hold it down while cargo is being offloaded so it doesn’t shoot up into the air like a, well, balloon.

(via SciTechDaily) (image from article)

4 thoughts on “Return of the airship”

  1. A blimp travelling from London to the Middle East recently as advertising for a middle eastern company revealed that it uses as much fuel in one week of travel as a passenger jet uses to taxi from the terminal to the runway. With that kind of efficiency it’s hard to see airships not become a factor in our future. I think it’ll be especially interesting if they are used for transporting non-perishable goods.

  2. Interesting, but one thing mentioned is that blimps tend to be subject to weather more so than airplanes. Not that airplanes aren’t – anyone stuck somewhere during a snowstorm can tell you that – but I think blimps might be more so, especially passenger airships that can’t fly over storm systems.

    In addition, I wonder how the fuel savings are going west, against the jet stream. I can forsee fleets of blimps that can only fly east in the northern hemisphere. Talk about the long way round from London to NYC!

    I’m still looking forward to taking my round-the-world airship cruise. Y’know, when I’m rich and famous and all that.

  3. I think the biggest problem I read about aside from large storms were areas of sudden low pressure – the kind of thing that causes turbulence in planes but could crash a lighter airship. A few of the old zeppelins met their ends like that.

    I think you might be right about going east. But then again there are some advantages to that – you fly over a lot more land going east so deliveries can be factored into the countries you’ll pass along the way. I think there’s definitely a place for airships in the transport economy.

  4. Now there is great airshipmanufacturing’s racing. By the way Russia is tried to place leader position in this field. Let’s point to russian key airship manufacturer DKBA – Federal Unitary State Enterprise, “Dolgoprudniy Design Bureau of Automatics” (“DIRIZHABLESTROI SSSR” in 1932-1940) where Umberto Nobile worked. DKBA is designed cargo airships from 3 000 kg to 200 000 kg of payload. Please read as DKBA site via web-translater –
    or my blogts about the airships themes

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