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Transportation Technology

Dirigible Airship Prototype Approaches Completion 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the float-away dept.
cylonlover writes "The dirigible airship, the oddball aircraft of another era, is making a comeback. California-based Aeros Corporation has created a prototype of its new breed of variable buoyancy aircraft and expects the vehicle to be finished before the end of 2012. With its new cargo handling technology, minimum fuel consumption, vertical take-off and landing features and point to point delivery, the Aeroscraft platform promises to revolutionize airship technology. The Aeroscraft ship uses a suite of new mechanical and aerospace technologies. It operates off a buoyancy management system which controls and adjusts the buoyancy of the vehicle, making it light or heavy for any stages of ground and flight operation. Automatic flight control systems give it equilibrium in all flight modes and allow it to adjust helium pressurized envelopes depending on the buoyancy requirements. It just needs one pilot and has an internal ballast control system, which allows it to offload cargo, without using ballast. Built with a rigid structure, the Aeroscraft can control lift at all stages with its Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities and carry maximum payload while in hover. What makes it different from other cargo vehicles is that it does not need a runway or ground infrastructure."
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Dirigible Airship Prototype Approaches Completion

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  • Every decade event (Score:5, Insightful)

    by esldude (1157749) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:36AM (#42200905)
    Seems this comes up every decade or so. There are some advantages in niches. But in the end, the large volume craft, at relatively slow speeds, and relatively less useful when winds are up seem to doom it from becoming a highly useful aircraft.
  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:40AM (#42200917)
    Given all the articles I've read about helium shortages et al., I'm not sure I'd invest in a company that claims He based dirigibles are about to make a comeback.
  • by mister2au (1707664) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:45AM (#42200947)

    Revolutionary?

    Nope ... just the Segway of the Dirigible world ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:51AM (#42200973)

    Short answer: no, airships will always be less efficient than water ships.

    The volume of air that must be displaced vs. volume of water is so much greater than any airship yard you find would be the size of Arkansas. Those steampunk airships you see? They would have to have buoyancy chambers orders of magnitude larger than depicted to float.

    As a matter of fact, the vast majority of the fluid resistance encountered by container ships is the containers themselves on top, since the hull can be made very low-resistance, but boxes cannot. Their fuel efficiency issues stem exclusively for extremely weak regulations on emissions.

    So no, airships will always be tourist attractions. No one wants to pay more money to transport things less quickly.

  • by afidel (530433) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:14AM (#42201325)

    One obvious use to me is in the delivery of the parts for windmills. Those things are absolutely huge and are pretty much by definition installed in places without a road network. That work alone could probably justify more than a dozen ships since we're expecting to build tens of thousands of windmills in the coming decades.

  • Re:FedEx (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:56AM (#42201471)

    I can imagine that they could be used for transporting things that right now there is no easy way to move.

    For example, mining trucks are limited in size by their tires. Since tires must be shipped from the factory in one piece, they can't be more than about 4-5m in diameter or they wouldn't be able to be transported by road. If you could transport them in the air, size would be irrelevant. At 6 tons times 6 tires, you would need a payload capacity of 36 tons to be able to move the tires from the factory to the mine site.

    Another example is oil fields and mines in Alaska and nothern Canada. Since there no roads going to them, equipment can only be moved in the winter when the land and lakes are frozen solid. With an airship, they could move equipment all year long. With a 60 ton capacity, it would be able to haul more than a tractor-trailer, and at 120kt it would go significantly faster too.

    dom

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @04:06AM (#42201511)

    Think of them as more efficient higher capacity longer range helicopters.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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