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The Military Transportation

Airship Company Gets First Civilian Customer 81

Zothecula writes "Hybrid Air Vehicles has recently achieved two massive commercial wins that seem to indicate that the airship has a very rosy future indeed. The aircraft's versatility plus an ability to stay airborne for 21 days enabled HAV to win a 517million contract (€370million) to supply a Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) to the U.S. Army for deployment in Afghanistan starting in 2012. Whilst the LEMV is a relatively small vehicle designed for surveillance, HAV has now announced a civil customer for their heavy-lift variant."
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Airship Company Gets First Civilian Customer

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  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:15PM (#37333010)
    Can I get it with brass dials, tropical wood furnishings and a ballroom? Oh, and steam engines, of course!
    • I'm sure the the right investor, you can have your victorian era airship. Which we be kinda cool actually.

      • I'd pay a certain premium to fly that way instead of the cattle car conditions of our present style of air travel. My understanding is that much of the cost in air travel is in dealing with the volatile cost of fuel... so maybe traveling by airship could be made affordable.

        I took a jet boat from Ft. Myers beach to Key West recently (after the last shuttle launch) that was very nice, and recall thinking it was way better than flying, even if it took a while longer. I'm picturing something like that.
        • You could just pay that certain premium by flying first class. Yes, it's a lot more expensive than a cheapest-coach-fare, but it will get you there far faster than an airship will.
          • Oh sure, and I have. Unfortunately it's still not the same. That boat I was talking about was great way to travel. A bit like how those guys were imagining a kind of luxury air ship.
        • Hmmm, memo to self : try to get the transport secretary to organise me on the sleeper train home from London, when this bloody job is over!
    • It's no good without a lightning gun and a twirly moustache though.

      • It's no good without a lightning gun and a twirly mustache though.

        Sold separately.

      • Any evil genius worth his mustache would rather build his own lightning gun. A place to put it (next to the cup holder) would be a nice feature, though.
    • Reading too much Phil&Kaja Foglio's works? Good.

      • by gknoy ( 899301 )

        Impossible. :)

        (For those who don't know, and might be interested: [] is the Girl Genius webcomic. It's steampunk, with a good storyline, etc etc. The art is phenomenal, and the Foglios have online versions of several others of their works too (Mythadventures and Buck Godot, both of which were entertaining as well). The art in Girl Genius is so good that I would totally love to have the printed versions ... though I can't justify the cost of them yet.

        Let's just say tha

        • It's steampunk

          You mean gaslamp fantasy []

          • That wiki article makes it sound like the distinction is in adding "more of a super-science edge and uchronic tone". So maybe steampunk was more accurate?
        • Impossible. :)

          (For those who don't know, and might be interested: [] is the Girl Genius webcomic. It's steampunk, with a good storyline, etc etc. The art is phenomenal, and the Foglios have online versions of several others of their works too (Mythadventures and Buck Godot, both of which were entertaining as well). The art in Girl Genius is so good that I would totally love to have the printed versions ... though I can't justify the cost of them yet.

          Let's just say that the comic is Awesome.

          To say nothing of their three (count them, Three) Hugos...

    • A friend of mine had a great idea for and airship: glass-bottom swimming pool!

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:22PM (#37333100)
    I can see a large commercial use for this as a replacement for the traditional cruise ship. Imagine being able to take an air cruise, a nice slow trip across the US at a medium altitude. I think it could be a lot of fun.
    • My first thought when I saw the ship was : Trip Around The World ! ( in less than 80 days)
  • Too soon? (Score:4, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:31PM (#37333224) Journal
    Would purchasing one with a printed skin texture based on the appearance of the burning, partially skeletonized, Hindenburg shortly before its fatal plunge be tasteless?

    Because I am tempted...
  • I'd love to fly in one of these, and I'd love to see them being adopted massively. As far as I understand Zeppelins were abandoned because of the war and bad mojo after the Hindenburg, in any case they seem to make perfect sense nowadays.
    • If that had been the reason we would be drowning in zeppelins nowadays, as cars and airplanes have had a much worse track record and see what happened there.

      The problem was more that it is really difficult to get them to fly profitable. You need ground crew, they're very sensitive to heavy winds and they take a lot of fuel compared to an airplane due to a distinctly un-aerodynamic profile.

      This blimp seems to have solved most of the issues due to its shape, requiring no groundcrew and much more stable in the

  • by TrueSatan ( 1709878 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:54PM (#37333490)
    In the 1980's I worked for a company that supplied the engines (Mercedes Benz motor car engines brought up to aviation standards) used in gondolas run under Airship Industries (maker of them) blimps. The gondolas ran as mobile generator sets and saw significant usage to power the lighting for the LA Olympic games. Other airships flew over the games sites so as to provide a high vantage point for security services to monitor the event. This led all involved into a false feeling of a new dawn for airships...fancy plans were drawn up for them to run tourist trips in and out of the Grand Canyon for instance and over Ayres Rock in Australia. Some even hoped for African wildlife tourism to be involved and for trips up the Amazon...then we came to our senses as the company (AI) went under. The cost of filling a large blimp with helium is immense and the wretched things leak! To make matters worse in order to move a blimp around a country one either has to wait ages while it covers any noteworthy distance under its own steam or deflate the thing (usually by venting all the helium) and transport the remaining items by more conventional means (road, rail, air or ship) then pay out for a new fill of helium. This made the costs look pretty awful pretty fast. High winds and airships aren't a good combination so should the prevailing conditions grow nasty the owners of the blimps were, again, forced into a deflate/re-inflate cycle so as to protect the structures. In short almost all the proposed uses of the blimps were unable to see a reasonable return on investment and those that had any chance of same were too few to keep the company making the blimps running. I very much doubt that an economic case that can be viable long-term really exists for all but a tiny number of large civilian use blimps in anything but an unrealistic pipe-dream. Small military use ones may be a niche product with a future and that's where money might be made off of these things.
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      This is not a traditional airship. As it is a hybrid air vehicle it generates only 40% of its lift via gas, this means it is far more stable. We will have to wait and see if this makes a big difference or not.

    • Make them large enough and the solar loading could turn a large, lenticular airship into a hot air balloon. Fly for free during daylight, stored energy or fueled torch for evening use. Weather dependent, but hey, air is free...
  • I do like the idea of airships, but they have very few uses as far as I can tell, besides recon which is being considered. If you want to go somewhere, they wont take you anywhere fast, which is pretty much what everything else does.

    I do think they would have a relatively strong role as a forward military base though. Being able to stay in the air for quite a long time as well as combining it with HTA technology could yield a very formidable forward base of operations. Especially if you consider that there
  • Looks [] like he's fantasizing about the forceful invasion [] of the North Pole and looting [] of Santa Claus' workshops!
    Hopefully Pia Zadora will put an end to his evil schemes!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Al-Qaeda begins issuing bows and arrows.

    • It would take a heck of a lot of arrows to make enough holes for it to come down in at an alarming rate and one assumes a fireproof material wouldn't be that hard to use in construction.

      As an anti-terrorism bonus, running one of these into a building would just crumple the nose a bit and make people watching on the ground snicker.

  • I find it kind of interesting that the first use of airborne(-ish) reconnaissance by the US military was by balloon back in the 1860s. Soldiers would use balloons tethered to the ground behind the front lines both to make battelfield maps and observe the action. Now, 150 years later, the US military is going back to using inflated ships because they are unmatched in terms of loiter time and stealth (no noise, can be made of signature-reducing material, can fly up out of naked eyesight). All the cutting-e
  • Very interesting indeed, this could become a competitor to airlines, not only in price, but also in comfort (not in speed though).

    I would love to take a ride in one of those. Even cooler would be to buy and own one, and just live in it!

    What the hell, I would want to try it - live on an airship, spending most of my time in the air!

  • Maybe this will kill off all the 'Ice Road Truckers' tv shows. One can only hope.
    • And the start of a new 'Ice Air Truckers' show ...

        Air truckers running ahead of ice storms, joisting for a spot at the loading bay, fixing the helium leak at Canyon pass

    • Sounds like you might have actually read the article and noticed that the civilian use is transport in the Canadian north where global climate change is making many ice roads and bridges either unsafe, not last long enough to bring up a years supplies, or just not exist.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @10:17PM (#37335476) Homepage

    It's a small group of misfits, consisting of:
    1. A guy with spikey hair and red armor.
    2. A guy wearing some sort of ninja-like outfit who can really kick.
    3. A gal wearing white robes.
    4. Somebody with a pointy yellow hat and blue robes. All you can see of the face is their eyes.

    They keep on going on about reviving the power of the orbs or some-such, and are carrying a wide array of crazy-looking potions and a lot of gold that they use to pay for everything.

  • .... they can convert their hangars [] into an tropical amusement park [], like CargoLifter did.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.