The key to the future of aviation may lie in its past. For more than 80 years, the dramatic, flame-filled destruction of the Hindenburg airship has burst into our cultural consciousness. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was perhaps the most famous plane crash ever captured on camera, with hysterical newsreels and shocking black and white photographs spreading around the world.
But thanks to advances in modern technology, it looks like airships are on the verge of making a comeback as a serious form of transport. And with that, they will bring environmental awareness that can inspire further changes in aviation as we look to the future.
Due to the very low net weight of the aircraft due to the lifting effect of helium, airships have very low fuel consumption.
Developed in the hangars of the former RAF at Cardington Airfield, the Airlander 10 is the result of years of research and will run on a hybrid engine with four internal combustion engines and an electric motor. Its hybrid-electric power delivers up to 90% less CO2 emissions than other aircraft. However, the goal of the developers is to make the airship fully electric and provide zero-emission flights by 2030.
With high levels of comfort and minimal noise, the luxury travel market (carrying up to 20 passengers) will become part of the original customer base for more commercial travel in the long term. And with the ability to take off and land anywhere, the Airlander will be able to reach destinations almost as unique as the mode of transport itself.
The airship can be used primarily as a floating hotel, transporting people from very luxurious resort hotels and reaching places that are truly off the beaten path of tourism. And he will be able to land on water. This means that you can land right in the center of some cities, while most airports are located far outside the city.
However, this new technology is not limited to the travel and tourism sector. And with the ability to access anywhere without the need for infrastructure on the ground, the airship has suddenly become a sustainable solution for freight companies, with the ability to maintain isolated residences or even aid in humanitarian disaster situations.
Today in our modern society we cannot always build roads or railways.
With a huge payload of 60 tons and minimal environmental emissions, flying airships can help and deliver resources to landlocked and hard-to-reach areas. Generating lift from helium gas and a hybrid-electric engine, the LCA60T will have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (depending on the weight of the payload). And like the Airlander 10, they are aiming for full-electric power in the future.
Airships have the ability to deliver cargo and supplies to hard-to-reach places.
The vast, remote expanse of northern Canada is one area where airships will operate, with minimal transport infrastructures and isolated communities. But because they can soar, they don't need to invest in ports, roads, and runways. Another region is the dense rainforest of French Guiana in South America.
At the moment, this is a watershed moment for flight technology. In the aerospace industry, the principle of airships was almost not an interesting technology, but over the past 15-20 years, technical innovations have appeared that were theoretically known but could not be implemented.