JIA? JAXPORT? JAX CHAMBER? LUFTSCHIFF HOCH!

December 31, 2014 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Article by Robert W. Mann




The interior of the NT is quite comfortable it includes a lavatory, 3 crew and 14 passenger seating
Photo Courtesy of: Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH

In the fall of 1988 Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH started a review whether reviving the Zeppelin airships would be technologically and economically viable. The company combed through the archives of the historic Zeppelin airships, stored in the company headquarters. By March of 1991, a remote control test model weighing 44 pounds and 33 feet long revealed excellent flight characteristics during the very first test flight. It shows that the basic concept of a rigid structure to which the newly designed swivelling propellers are fixed, guarantee highest safety and so far, unmatched maneuverability. By mid summer development team files and receives several patents worldwide. These patents include, amongst others, the triangular structure, the arrangement of the propellers, the ballonet design, and the carbon-fiber girders. In July of 1996 the curtain rose on the new Zeppelin era as the company opened it's doors to the media for a first look at the new ship. Then at 7:47pm, September 1997, the new Zeppelin NT07 unmasts in front of the exhibition hall in Friedrichshafen, rising for a historic 40 minute flight, many decades after their historic tragedy, Zeppelin is back. Historically in May 2011, Goodyear (America's one-time Zeppelin builder) ordered three new Zeppelin NT model LZ N07-101's at a cost of approximately 14.5 Million Euros each, the largest deal in the history of ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG. After component production at Friedrichshafen, the final assembly took place in the Goodyear airship hangar in Akron, OH. The first Zeppelin NT commenced its Goodyear operation at the beginning of 2014. Besides the airship sale, the deal also includes an agreement for close co-operation between the two companies. This three airship sale doubles the worldwide Zeppelin NT fleet.

Lockheed Martin Corporation designed and built a strange looking hybrid airship called the P-791 for the competition for the US Military's needs. Boeing jumped onboard in partnership with CargoLifter and designed the CL-160. Worldwide Aeros designed and built the nearly 300 foot long 'scale model' of it's ship called 'Dragon Dream,' and finally the largest of them all is the Hybrid Air Vehicles's 'Airlander,' in the UK which actually attains 300 feet. In Canada Millennium Airship Inc., first addressed the system attributes required to meet overall customer system requirements identified by their top level requirements. Skyfreighter Canada Ltd. is now taking those conceptual and scientific studies toward the production goal of a 50 ton airship and a 14 TEU capacity.

Almost predictably, an economic crash, massive defense cuts and resulting curtailment of defense capabilities and sudden order cancelations appeared as it might bring the whole industry down in flames again; but not this time. Ron Hochstetler, head of the 'Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop,' says that airships could transport far more cargo than airplanes to remote locations in the Arctic. And airships don’t rely on expensive airport infrastructure. Ron's point shouldn't be lost on minds at the top of Jacksonville's aviation and port facilities. If you want to open up a new route for containers or other hardware to Caribbean Islands, South America or Africa, you are going to be focused on building the infrastructure to support it after which you will have to develop, build, or buy your transport vehicle, however, if you can come up with a technology like the airship where the vast majority of investment goes into the vehicle, not into the ground, you’ve got a new ballgame. Imagine the attraction of showing a new prospective industry the results of a test with 6-8 high value/high priority containers coming from Hamburg to Jacksonville direct by airship next to figures for Jax and the other east coast ports by water. Who gets the relocation?



Out in the Skunk Works in California, home to our most advanced aviation developments comes the P-791
Photo Courtesy of: Lockheed-Martin


The company has big plans for this division and has been talking to Alaska DOT
Photo Courtesy of: Lockheed-Martin


The P-791 is actually just a ? full size version of things to come, they are bullish on the commercial value of their ship
Photo Courtesy of: Lockheed-Martin


Photo Courtesy of: US Navy


Boeing teamed up for it's high altitude near-space airship
Photo Courtesy of: Boeing


Airlander's size chart
Photo Courtesy of: Airlander


Airlander's polar mission concept
Photo Courtesy of: Airlander


Airlander coming and...
Photo Courtesy of: Airlander


Airlander going
Photo Courtesy of: Airlander

Undaunted by apparent setbacks, Airlander bought it's giant back from the U.S. Army, meanwhile in France, Thale's Aerospace, is flying high rushing to completion on it's solar powered StratoBus Airship, a hybrid of a satellite and a drone. StratoBus will fly at 60,000 feet (commercial jet's typically fly up to 39,000 feet) and be able to stay aloft for a year at a time. All of this for pennies compared to the cost of a space based satellite. StratoBus should be in the air within 5 years,  it could serve the military in crisis areas, carrying cameras, radars or telecommunication relays.

Igor Pasternak, chief executive of Worldwide Aeros, said airships could spur a revolution in air transport. "We are creating the Internet for logistics," he said. The company is working with potential users to explore how best to employ such transportation systems. "The challenge is how do we structure the right business model," Mr. Pasternak said. The attraction of the massive hulls, which can measure more than 500 feet in length, is their ability to carry large amounts of cargo from remote areas where planes often can't land. Though slower than a cargo jet, blimps have far lower transport costs, so low in fact that it has been calculated that a transcontinental trip could actually consume the same amount of fuel from Los Angles to New York, as a 747 burns rolling from the gate 1.5 miles to the end of the runway in Los Angles.

Airlander has started work on their 'Airlander 50' airship, which will have a range of 2,600 nautical miles with 50 passengers in the forward cabin and 6 containers in the aft cargo hold. Worldwide Aero's Craft has started design work on its first two operational ML866s, vehicles capable of carrying 250 tons of cargo. Production plans are ambitious, but we could see hundreds of airships in service from Alaska to Antarctica within 30 years. The firms are bullish on the market but shy away from guessing actual numbers because this is a completely reborn and disruptive technology.


Worldwide Aeros is now working on the 'Mother of all Airships!'
Photo Courtesy of: Worldwide Aeros


Worldwide Aeros Dragon Dream
Photo Courtesy of: Worldwide Aeros


Worldwide Aeros Dragon Dream
Photo Courtesy of: Worldwide Aeros


Photo Courtesy of: Worldwide Aeros


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