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Airship News Archives - H2 Clipper, Inc

The Age of the Airship May Be Dawning Again

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February 29, 2020 — Dirigibles ruled the skies once. Can they make a comeback? You might think that the tragic end of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 marked a clear end to the airship era. The famous footage of the German airship plunging in flames became the overwhelming image of a seemingly doomed technology.

You would be wrong.

For decades, the Goodyear fleet of blimps have been the only working airships most people had a chance of seeing in real life. But a handful of companies are looking to bring back the spectacular dirigibles.

The government of Quebec will be pitching 30 million Canadian dollars (23 million in U.S. dollars) to Flying Whales, a French company, to start building its massive zeppelins. The company has only been around since 2012, and it hasn’t gotten any of its airships off the ground—yet. The plan has been derided by opposition parties, not as a flying whale but as a white elephant.

READ MORE: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/29/blimps-hindenburg-flying-whales-airships/

Planes Are Ruining the Planet. New, Mighty Airships Won’t.

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November 14, 2019 –  Some scientists are serious about resurrecting zeppelins for low-carbon travel.

This August, Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic in a zero-emission sailboat to protest the high carbon footprint of plane travel. But there’s good reason to think she may someday travel to climate protests via airship — the same giant aircraft, buoyed by gas-filled balloons, that were popular in the early 20th century. Faster than cargo ships and able to alight inland as well as on a beach, many airships, also known as dirigibles, have fewer emissions than boats, and all are much more carbon efficient than planes.

While interest in early dirigibles waned after they proved too slow and, occasionally, too dangerous, climate change is making plane travel increasingly contentious. Now some scientists are considering airships as a serious transportation solution.

Unlike planes, airships don’t need to burn much fuel to take off and propel themselves. Because they move more slowly than planes, they’re being eyed as a much more carbon-efficient way to move air cargo, which is set to triple in the coming decades, according to the International Air Cargo Association. “An airship produces 80% to 90% fewer emissions than conventional aircraft,” said Jean Baptiste Meusnier, spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association.

READ MORE: https://onezero.medium.com/planes-are-ruining-the-planet-new-mighty-airships-wont-d8eb39418acc

How airships could return to our crowded skies

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November 8, 2019 – Airships lost out to conventional aircraft after a series of disastrous crashes. But now safer technology could be the key to their return.

Zeppelins fill the skies of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. The giant airships of his parallel universe carry the mail, transport soldiers into battle and explorers to the Arctic. What was once my local post office in Oxford is in Pullman’s fantasy – a zeppelin station where I could catch the evening airship to London.

When I put the books down the reality is rather disappointing. A handful of smaller airships can be found flying proudly across the United States on promotional tours for brands like Goodyear and Carnival Cruise Line. Last year, a blimp demeaned itself by setting two world records, including one for the fastest text on a touch screen mobile phone while water skiing behind a blimp. A few more are employed to fly well-heeled tourists on sight-seeing trips over the German countryside. Another can be found flying over the Amazon. And that’s about it.

READ MORE: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191107-how-airships-could-return-to-our-crowded-skies

Zeppelins could make a comeback with this solar-powered airship cargo mover

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October 8, 2019 – Zeppelins, the rigid airships most famously epitomized by the Hindenburg, now seem kind of retro, rather than the image of futurity they represented in the 1930s. But they could be about to make a comeback in a big way — courtesy of a new aluminum-shelled, solar-powered airship that’s being built by the U.K.-based company Varialift Airships.

According to the company’s CEO Alan Handley, the airship will be capable of making a transatlantic flight from the United Kingdom to the United States, consuming just 8% of the fuel of a regular airplane. It will be powered by a pair of solar-powered engines and two conventional jet engines.

While its lack of onboard battery would limit travel to daylight hours, and its speed will only be approximately half that of a Boeing 747, the Varialift airship does promise to be a useful cargo carrier. Its creators claim that it will be able to carry loads ranging from 50 to 250 tons. Larger models with payloads up to 3,000 tons aren’t out of the question either. Bulky cargo such as electricity pylons, wind turbine blades, and towers, or even prefabricated structures such as oil rigs could be carried underneath using cables. That means that cargo will have a weight limit, but no practical size limit.

READ MORE: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/varialift-airships-solar-powered-airship/

Airship Innovation: Lighter-Than-Air Aircrafts

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July 7, 2019 – 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

READ MORE: https://interestingengineering.com/airship-innovation-lighter-than-air-aircrafts

‘Lighter-than-air’ aircraft has first test flight

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April 25, 2019 (CNN) — An innovative aircraft that turns into a “lighter-than-air” balloon to propel itself forward has been flown for the first time.

The Phoenix is designed to repeatedly switch between being lighter and heavier than air to generate thrust and allow it to stay in the skies indefinitely. Officially known as an “ultra-long endurance autonomous aircraft,” it was developed by scientists in Scotland and flown over a distance of 120 meters (394 feet) during its first test flight in March. Arts festivals all over Japan are helping to change local communities for the better, bringing new people, ideas, and ways to make a living.

Officially known as an “ultra-long endurance autonomous aircraft,” it was developed by scientists in Scotland and flown over a distance of 120 meters (394 feet) during its first test flight in March.

READ MORE: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/phoenix-aircraft-test-flight-scli-gbr-intl/index.html

Filling the Friendly Skies With Hot Air

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March 19, 2019 – When a massive helium-filled airship designed by Flying Whales, a French manufacturer, takes to the air for the first time in 2021, it won’t be against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Instead, it’ll probably fly over Jingmen, a dusty farm and industrial town in central China where Flying Whales and state-owned China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., Ltd. (CAIGA) recently announced they’re planning to build an airship assembly line. Production should start in 2022 and could result in dozens of the giant ships — each twice as long as a Boeing Co. 747 – floating around the world.

READ MORE: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-03-10/china-s-hoping-airships-will-revolutionize-air-transport

World’s biggest aircraft, Airlander 10, moves toward commercial model

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January 14, 2019, London (CNN) — The world’s largest aircraft has been retired after six test flights, as its developers prepare to build a new, commercial model to take to the skies in the early 2020s.

The prototype Airlander 10, a hybrid helium airship built by Hybrid Air Vehicles, based in Bedfordshire in central England, measures 300 feet in length – and has been dubbed the “flying bum” because of its unfortunate shape.

Its “luxury” variant was formally unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK in July, after a development process that was hit by some high-profile setbacks – including a crash landing on its second flight.

Hybrid Air Vehicles will now begin work on the production version of the prototype, having secured approved from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The luxury Airlander features a 150-foot-long cabin with plush en-suite bedrooms, an on-board “altitude” bar and glass flooring.

READ MORE: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/airlander-10-prototype-new-model-gbr-intl/index.html

The Struggle to Make Diesel-Guzzling Cargo Ships Greener

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May 29, 2018 — At the pier outside Amsterdam’s central train station, commuters stride aboard the IJveer 61. The squat ferry crisscrosses the waterfront, taking passengers from the city’s historic center to the borough of Noord. Beneath their feet, two electric motors propel the ferry through the gray-green waters, powered by 26 lithium-ion polymer batteries and a pair of diesel generators.

Hybrid vessels like the IJveer 61 are increasingly common in the Netherlands, where officials are pushing to limit toxic air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector. Patrol vessels and work ships are turning more to batteries and using less petroleum-based fuel; so are crane-carrying boats that pluck fallen bicycles from Amsterdam’s famous canals.

Some of these vessels recharge during off-hours, pulling from the harbor’s electric grid connection. In other boats, diesel generators recharge batteries as they run. As the harbor’s electricity infrastructure expands, more vessels could ditch diesel entirely, says Walter van der Pennen from EST-Floattech, the Dutch energy-storage company that oversaw installation of the IJveer 61’s series hybrid system.

“The next step is to move away from hybrids,” he tells me one drizzly afternoon from a café overlooking the waterway. “For all of the vessels here, it’s perfectly suitable to go full electric.”

READ MORE: https://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/marine/the-struggle-to-make-dieselguzzling-cargo-ships-greenerectrum.ieee.org/transportation/marine/the-struggle-to-make-dieselguzzling-cargo-ships-greener

‘Flying Whale’ Blimp That Never Lands Joins Global Airship Race

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March 26, 2018 – France has entered the global race to develop a viable cargo airship with a 500-foot blimp designed to lift lumber from deep woodland.

Flying Whales is joining a contest that includes defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. and a clutch of smaller players. What’s different about the latest project is the combined benefit of the blimp being able to lift an industry-leading 60 tons, but without any requirement for mooring pylons.

READ MORE: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-27/-flying-whale-blimp-that-never-lands-joins-global-airship-race