AIRSHIPS, for many people, will conjure the image of the Hindenburg igniting with terrible effect, as it tried to dock in New Jersey in 1937 (pictured below). It was widely assumed that the idea of the airship as a method of mass transport perished that day along with 35 of those on board.
Not so. On March 22nd, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), a British firm, unveiled a vessel that it hopes will reignite, metaphorically speaking, the technology. The Airlander 10 (pictured top) is the longest aircraft in the world. At 92 metres, it stretches nearly 20 metres further than an A380 jumbo, and holds over 28,000 cubic metres of helium (although technically it is a hybrid—60% of its lift comes from the gas that inflates it and 40% comes from its aerodynamic shape when propelled). Its owners reckon that it could stay in the air for five days. It can take off vertically even on the most testing of surfaces, including ice or water.
Several uses of the airship have been mooted, including carrying heavy equipment to out-of-the-way places,…Continue reading