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posted by janrinok on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Not-so-heavy-metal dept.

Wakaranai writes:

"BBC News has a video report that a UK company, Hybrid Air Vehicles, is developing helium-filled hybrid airships for passengers and cargo.

The first prototype was 91 m long, and was built for the US Army. However, the military project was scrapped due to budget cuts, and the airship was returned to the UK. A larger vehicle is on the drawing board.

One of the companies shareholders is... err.. Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden!"

Related Stories

"Luxury Tourism" Version of World's Largest Aircraft is in the Works 13 comments

Airships may indeed be well-suited to tasks like cargo transport, surveying and surveillance, but what really captures peoples' imaginations is the thought of travelling aboard one as a tourist. Well, according to Britain's Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), such a scenario could soon be a reality.

HAV is the developer of the Airlander 10, which is currently the world's largest aircraft. It's powered by four 325-hp (242-kW) turbocharged diesel engines and uses aerodynamic lift like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft to take off, with helium keeping it aloft once it's in the air. Additionally, it can carry payloads of up to 10,000 kg (22,050 lb), stay in the air for five days at a time with a crew, and doesn't require a purpose-built runway.
...
the company revealed that next year, UK-based Henry Cookson Adventures (HCA) will become the first private excursion company to trial the Airlander 10. HCA will be taking the aircraft on its first international flight – an "expeditionary journey" – with an eye towards ultimately using a type-certified version of it for transporting paying customers to remote and exotic locations around the world.

Fancy a sight-seeing flight to Kamchatka?

Previously:
World's Largest Aircraft Repaired and Ready to Fly Again
World's Largest Aircraft Takes Off for the First Time
Airlander 10 - Test Flight Delayed
World's Largest Aircraft "Weeks" Away From First UK Test Flight
Hybrid Air Vehicles Seeking Investors for Airlander 10 Hybrid Airship
World's Longest Aircraft


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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by mhajicek on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:13AM

    by mhajicek (51) on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:13AM (#8973)

    Airship needs more cowbell.

    --
    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by pixeldyne on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:17AM

    by pixeldyne (2637) on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:17AM (#8975)

    Dickinson seems to have a lot of interest in aviation, he holds a commercial pilot's license, and invested in an aircraft maintenance company amongst other things.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by wjwlsn on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:55AM

      by wjwlsn (171) on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:55AM (#8998) Homepage Journal
      The maintenance company is http://cardiffaviation.com/ [cardiffaviation.com]. They're also into pilot training (they have several simulators) and are supposedly looking to get certified for charter flight services as well.
      --
      I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 1) by FacialPaper on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:42PM

      by FacialPaper (284) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:42PM (#9104)

      And as if that wasn't enough, he even went as far as singing a song [youtube.com] about people flying around in airplanes while shooting at each other.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by clone141166 on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:49AM

    by clone141166 (59) on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:49AM (#8995)

    Finally, the future is here! When can I purchase one of these so I can fly to work each day? Wait, it takes up HOW many parking spaces? ... Oh nevermind then.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by lx on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:54AM

    by lx (1915) on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:54AM (#8997)

    Another decade has gone by and airships are the future again. Fun, exciting and ultimately disappointing and impractical. Especially now the world supply of helium is shrinking rapidly.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TheRaven on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:24PM

      by TheRaven (270) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:24PM (#9072) Journal
      There's a lot of potential in airships. They lost out to jets because they're much slower, but they're a lot faster than ships when there isn't a direct ocean route. They're also very cheap to operate, per ton of cargo per mile, in comparison to other forms of air transport.

      As to helium, hydrogen isn't actually that unsafe for airships (it turns out that wrapping hydrogen balloons in parrafin-soaked rags and putting them in a high-static environment isn't so clever, but that's now a known issue.

      --
      sudo mod me up
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by evilviper on Saturday March 01 2014, @10:58AM

    by evilviper (1760) on Saturday March 01 2014, @10:58AM (#9051) Homepage Journal

    I don't see why a brutally slow and historically very dangerous airship maker would ever bother with passengers. Passengers want to travel QUICKLY, and carrying them adds obscene amounts of regulations, inspections and government oversight.

    Airships are ideally suited for one single task... Heavy, expensive, long-distance cargo lift. Look at all the diamond mines and oil derecks up in the artic circle, not acessible by land most of the year... They need huge and heavy equipment that can't be brought in by ships or normal sized aircraft.

    Or look at all the expense and hassle gone through to make a road to the south pole, necessary because flying-in fuel actually burns-up 1/3rd of it's weight in fuel for the aircraft.

    And when you've only got a couple squishy humans on-board, you don't need to worry about buying expensive helium. Just fill the bugger with hydrogen, or even methane, give the crew parachutes, and to hell with safety.

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:18PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:18PM (#9089)

      The crew of the airship thanks you for your concern. Dude, that is some tough love.

      --
      The more things change, the more they look the same
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheRaven on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:10PM

        by TheRaven (270) on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:10PM (#9130) Journal
        What makes you think they'd be crewed? Fill them up, fly them on autopilot to their destination, land them by remote control, or automatically in a suitable large field. Nice cheap way of transporting cargo long distances (especially if you can put solar panels on the top and use them to drive the propellers). Having to keep a crew (plus all of the food that they'd eat) on board would take up valuable cargo space.
        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by TheRaven on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:34PM

          by TheRaven (270) on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:34PM (#9138) Journal
          To add some concrete numbers, the total cargo capacity for this prototype is 1225kg for a 21-day flight (or 5000kg for a shorter one - it's not explained why, possibly due to helium leaking out over time and reducing maximum lift, or needing to carry compressed helium to reinflate the balloons).

          The fuel numbers are interesting: 3100 liters/day, 80 knots, 1225kg of cargo. That means that, per day, it travels at most 1920 nautical miles, so uses about 1.3l of fuel per nautical mile per ton. To put that in perspective, a 747-8F (new freight variant of the 747) has a 140,000kg cargo payload, has a fuel capacity of 230,630l and a range of 4,390 nmi. That means that it uses about 0.38l of fuel per nautical mile per ton. The airship just about beats that if you assume the 5 ton load.

          Being able to vertically take off and land in a field is an advantage in the kind of disaster relief role that they are apparently aiming for, but I find it a bit hard to understand how they manage such poor fuel efficiency. I'd guess that it's because keeping a modern aeroplane aloft doesn't actually use much energy and the fat shape of the dirigible means that it suffers a lot more from drag.

          --
          sudo mod me up
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 03 2014, @07:07PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 03 2014, @07:07PM (#10159)

            "I find it a bit hard to understand how they manage such poor fuel efficiency."

            The smaller the engine the lower the efficiency. I imagine the little weed whacker engines on the blimp are not terribly efficient compared to the giant 747 engines.

            Also the 747 flys extremely high altitude, lower air resistance.

            Finally I imagine there's a huge fudge factor to account for wind, and its going to be brutally expensive pushing that blimp into headwinds.

        • (Score: 1) by Ryuugami on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:28PM

          by Ryuugami (2925) on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:28PM (#9152)

          Seems like a nice retirement plan for military drone controllers :)

          --
          If a shit storm's on the horizon, it's good to know far enough ahead you can at least bring along an umbrella. - D.Weber
      • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:18PM

        by evilviper (1760) on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:18PM (#9165) Homepage Journal

        The crew of the airship thanks you for your concern.

        The cargo they're carrying on every trip is going to be worth many times more money than they'd earn in their lifetime (assuming a small crew). Financial concerns will ensure work goes into making the ship reliable and survivable.

        The issue of flammable gas in the balloon is just one of psychology. A huge fire looks bad and scary, and the Hindenburg disaster is burned into everyone's minds. But even with a huge fire and no safety measures, most people survived the Hindenburg, and quite a few people died in helium-filled airships. Even WWI British pilots had a hell of a difficult time shooting down hydrogen-filled zeppelins that were bombing their cities.

        Heck, the low air-speed should make it far easier to bail-out of a failing airship than any other aircraft, so accident survival is likely quite high.

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by randmcnatt on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:42PM

    by randmcnatt (671) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:42PM (#9103)
    The articles (and videos) I've seen all seem to forget to mention that this is only the current longest aircraft.

    Now, 91 m (299 feet) is pretty big, but the largest British airship so far was the R101 at 236.83 m (777 ft) long, and two American dirigibles, the Macon and Akron, were just a shade longer at 239 m (785 feet). The German Zeppelins, of course, hold the record, up to 245 m (804 ft) long.

    For comparison, an Airbus 380 is 73 m (239 ft) long.
    --
    The Wright brothers were not the first to fly: they were the first to land.
    • (Score: 1) by willyg on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:10PM

      by willyg (1845) on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:10PM (#9129) Homepage

      No, that's close, but not quite correct. All the earlier ones did "land", but there is a further distinction to be made. The Wright brothers were among the first to WALK AWAY after they landed...