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Still Waters

Can airships be brought back into mainstream?

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Still Waters

Massey University School of Aviation assistant lecturer Isaac Henderson has always been fascinated by airships, so he embarked on a master's thesis to find out if they could be brought back into the mainstream.

"We are starting to see modern airships in the freight and logistics sector, but very few people think they can be brought back for mass passenger services," Mr Henderson says, "so I thought it was important to know what consumers actually think."

The airship era ended prematurely, Mr Henderson believes, after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, which killed 36 people.

https://phys.org/news/2018-07-airships-scenic-flights-future.html

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Vlad the Mighty

This is something I've often thought about. They have very many advantages; great lifting capacity, unlimited endurance, they can take off and land vertically without needing power, and they're very quiet. About their only disadvantage is that they're slow, and of course with modern materials and inert gases they should surely be much safer. (The Hindenburg disaster was more because of the aluminum coating of the skin rather than hydrogen in any case, I believe.)  I've often thought there could be a use for giant cargo carrying airships, perhaps with power obtained from solar panels built into the skin. According to some rumours the US Air Force does indeed have a stealth blimp (probably not shaped like Donald Trump) for clandestine infiltration. 

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MWoo7
Posted (edited)

All because they're not shaped like Donald Trump??!!?!??! aaaahw. Should make a couple-- see how it goes.

6 minutes ago, Vlad the Mighty said:

(probably not shaped like Donald Trump)

 

Edited by MWoo7
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sci-nerd

In a world where money rules, and where time is money, airships seem like the last choice anyone would make for transportation. Not to mention that they're filled with highly flamable hydrogen, and surrounded by natural static electricity from the air. But there's also the logistics of airspace and harboring in airports that needs to be worked out.

I don't see it happening.

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L.A.T.1961

I doubt if consumers would mind a trip on an airship if something practical could be designed. The problem is building one that can fly in all types of weather and be economical to run. 

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Piney
2 hours ago, sci-nerd said:

In a world where money rules, and where time is money, airships seem like the last choice anyone would make for transportation. Not to mention that they're filled with highly flamable hydrogen, and surrounded by natural static electricity from the air. But there's also the logistics of airspace and harboring in airports that needs to be worked out.

I don't see it happening.

Non-flammable Helium since 1921 in America. :tu:

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L.A.T.1961

In theory no gas is needed to produce lift in an airship. If a tank could be made that would take a near vacuum, and light enough to be practical, then it would provide buoyancy and allow an airship to float.    

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Wickian

It might work for cruises I guess.  I don't see it ever being anything but a luxury or novelty though.

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DingoLingo
3 hours ago, sci-nerd said:

In a world where money rules, and where time is money, airships seem like the last choice anyone would make for transportation. Not to mention that they're filled with highly flamable hydrogen, and surrounded by natural static electricity from the air. But there's also the logistics of airspace and harboring in airports that needs to be worked out.

I don't see it happening.

the only reason why the Nazi's used Hydrogen was the US was the main supplier of Helium at the time, and refused to sell it to the Nazi's.. hence.. the hydrogen 

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DingoLingo

Personally I could see a market for it if it was affordable.. not everyone is after the quick trip.. take cruise ships.. or even railway.. people take those for holidays.. because it is casual and easy.. no need to rush.. and its relaxing.. the right size airship would do the same thing

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ChrLzs

My concerns relate to safety in high winds (there will not always be hangars available for protection), and even just the power they would need to fly against strong head winds.. - they generally present quite a cross section..

I've always though huge hovercraft were a better idea - no need for smooth roads, travel on land or water...

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Tatetopa
4 hours ago, DingoLingo said:

Personally I could see a market for it if it was affordable.. not everyone is after the quick trip.. take cruise ships.. or even railway.. people take those for holidays.. because it is casual and easy.. no need to rush.. and its relaxing.. the right size airship would do the same thing

When you fly today you are crowded in  a can with way too many people.  Unless you have a window, there in not a very good view.  All you want to do is get there quick and it is not much fun. Imagine what it would be like cruising at 15,000 ft. , giant windows, room to move around and the world laid out at your feet.   Flying across the American Southwest for a couple of days would be totally awesome.  Better than a train or a helicopter ride by far.

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Vlad the Mighty
9 hours ago, L.A.T.1961 said:

I doubt if consumers would mind a trip on an airship if something practical could be designed. The problem is building one that can fly in all types of weather and be economical to run. 

They would probably be very economical to run, since they'd probably use much less fuel than a 500 ton A380, for example, for a given load and given distance. 

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Vlad the Mighty
1 hour ago, ChrLzs said:

My concerns relate to safety in high winds (there will not always be hangars available for protection), and even just the power they would need to fly against strong head winds.. - they generally present quite a cross section..

I've always though huge hovercraft were a better idea - no need for smooth roads, travel on land or water...

But fuel consumption of those is astronimical for any given payload, and the range of sea conditions they can operate in are decidedly limited. They could only operate on land in as much as on and off slipways (or, for military landing craft, beaches.)

Mind you, these are darn cool:

Image result for russian air cushion landing craft

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Golden Duck
2 hours ago, Vlad the Mighty said:

They would probably be very economical to run, since they'd probably use much less fuel than a 500 ton A380, for example, for a given load and given distance. 

The Hindenburg only carried 50 passengers-all first class.

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RoofGardener

Every few years, somebody raises the idea of using Airships - or canal boats - for freight. 

Nothing every seems to come of it however :( 

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seanjo

It's an idea that's been "floated" for decades, but never seems to get off the ground!

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