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Airship Innovation: Lighter-Than-Air Aircrafts

By July 7, 2019November 27th, 2021No Comments

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Airship Innovation: Lighter-Than-Air Aircrafts

Jul 7, 2019 • Interesting Engineering

The dream of lighter-than-air travel continues with crafts such as the Phoenix, and the "big bum" - the Airlander 10.

You’re having a dream where you’re floating noiselessly over a landscape looking down. For most of us, it’s just a dream, but for a lucky few who have flown in a lighter-than-air aircraft, it’s a reality.

There are multiple types of lighter-than-air aircraft:

  • Airship – any powered, steerable aircraft that it is inflated with a gas that is lighter than air
  • Dirigible – synonymous with an airship, it is any lighter-than-air craft that is powered and steerable; from the French verb diriger, “to steer”
  • Blimp – a powered, steerable, lighter-than-air vehicle whose shape is maintained by the pressure of the gases within its envelope
  • Rigid Airship – has a framework surrounding one or more individual gas cells, and the framework determines its shape
  • Zeppelin – a rigid airship that is manufactured by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company of Germany which was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who is considered the father of the rigid airship
  • Semi-Rigid Airship – like a blimp, it maintains its aerodynamic shape from internal gas pressure, but it has a partial rigid frame which supports and distributes loads
  • Hybrid Airship – a powered aircraft that obtains some of its lift as a lighter-than-air (LTA) airship and some from aerodynamic lift as a heavier-than-air aerodyne
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