Don’t look now, but airships are about to make a comeback. Big time. The idea of using lighter than air craft kind of went away with the flaming disasters of the 1930s, but now a new generation of technologies offers safer, more efficient options for these giants, And now one British company thinks it has come up with the perfect product to attract buyers to the market once more.
Airlander, built by Hybrid Air Vehicles, uses a combination of a huge gas filled Kevlar envelope alongside a new aerodynamic shape to produce a vehicle which will travel at 40 knots and carry up to 50 tons of people and/or equipment anywhere in the world. It can also stay aloft for up to 5 days depending on configuration.
Because most of the lift is delivered from the gas envelope, the aircraft is very fuel efficient, and although it is slow in comparison to large transport planes such as the C-130, it doesn’t need a special airport or landing strip, it can virtually land anywhere there’s space. On water, desert, scrubland, and can even hover if necessary. It’s also much quieter than any kind of current cargo aircraft. And let’s face it, airships are just so cool to watch.