Airships

Old Dec 17, 12, 8:48 am
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Airships

I was reading a blog earlier today and came across this article:

http://tweedlandthegentlemansclub.bl...indenburg.html

I couldn't help but wonder at how amazing it would be to travel around the world in what is essentially a "flying cruise ship". From what I've gathered it would also be quite safe as airships are now filled with helium (non-flammable) instead of hydrogen. Solar energy could also be used to propel the airship giving it a virtually unlimited range.

Anyone knows why the concept has never caught on? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who would like to fly in one of those...
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:05 am
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I'm guessing it's because they're realllly slow. I don't know about you, but I like to minimize the time I spend on an aircraft.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:25 am
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Originally Posted by vaillancourt View Post

Anyone knows why the concept has never caught on? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who would like to fly in one of those...
Many reasons. They don't fly "above the weather". They need really good conditions for take-off and landing (too much wind is bad). They are slow (they competed with ships back in the 30s).
Require lots of crew members. And they were very expensive when they were around, think F tickets at today's prices.

Last edited by Maluku_Flyer; Dec 17, 12 at 9:35 am
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:31 am
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This is worth reading:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8...-of-fancy.html

I recall reading a German company was developing a passenger zeppelin.

Note the swatistika above NYC - quite unreal.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by vaillancourt View Post
From what I've gathered it would also be quite safe as airships are now filled with helium (non-flammable) instead of hydrogen.
There is world shortage of helium right now, so probably not financially viable. Mrs Roberino asked me if this was due to one Herr Baumgartner.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:55 am
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I understand that speed would be an issue if your goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible but it would also be an advantage for sky cruises. Imagine sitting in a gourmet restaurant aboard the airship, slowly flying above the rocky mountains and being able to admire the scenery through floor to ceiling windows.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 10:38 am
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Originally Posted by vaillancourt View Post
I understand that speed would be an issue if your goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible but it would also be an advantage for sky cruises. Imagine sitting in a gourmet restaurant aboard the airship, slowly flying above the rocky mountains and being able to admire the scenery through floor to ceiling windows.
I could maybe see a small private company getting one of these in the air for a hyper-niche purpose like what you suggest. It would be a very expensive luxury, sort of like the specialty train trips I see advertised every now and then.

I'm not sure what an ideal itinerary for it would be. I wonder if operating at 15,000-20,000 feet over the Rockies would be possible... Maybe somewhere in Europe? It just feels like something that would work better in Europe than the U.S.... More cities and other sites that are both interesting to view from the air and reasonably close together to make this possible...
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Old Dec 17, 12, 11:12 am
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A couple of problems.....

1. Back in the dirigible days, weather/weather related turbulence proved a far greater problem than the hydrogen/helium issue.

2. High altitude? Airships would be limited to relatively low altitudes, below Angels 10, because of oxygen levels. Trying to build a large enough passenger/control space capable of pressurization would be essentially impossible (imagine the size dirigible needed to lift a 747 hull plus powerplants, fuel, plus beer, wine and whisk(e)y for long hops), and building a frame large enough to contain gas cells expanding at high altitudes would be equally impossible
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Old Dec 17, 12, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
This is worth reading:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8...-of-fancy.html

I recall reading a German company was developing a passenger zeppelin.

Note the swatistika above NYC - quite unreal.
I recall a Russian company doing the same. I don't remember the exact details but apparently it was going to be huge with multiple decks. Literally a cruise ship in the air. They were also working on ways to make it significantly faster than past blimps.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 1:41 pm
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Airship Ventures was operating in California for the past few years, both from the San Francisco and Long Beach areas. They closed up shop recently.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., November 14, 2012 – Airship Ventures, operators of the world’s largest passenger airship, the Zeppelin Eureka, have announced today that despite history-making successes and a stellar performance and safety record, they will be ceasing operations immediately.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 4:58 pm
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People have been touting the return of the airship for decades now.

In reality, it is actually very difficult to compete with airplanes on convenience. They're fast, flexible, and very reliable under almost all weather conditions. For anything less than a TCON flight, I have no problems sitting in an airplane seat (even in Y). For a TCON flight, it would take an airship something like 40-50 hours to make the trip. More comfortable? Probably. Just as expensive as F-class? Probably as well. Incredibly slow? You bet. This problem is only magnified as the distance increases. Few people would actually be willing to spend that much time in the air, even for more comfort.

Others tout the use of airships as cargo movers—hauling standardized containers between continents. Until these airships can compete on cost with large cargo ships (which are very cheap), there won't be much advantage over the status quo. Furthermore, you simply can't compete with air freight on speed and flexibility.

The past century or so has seen significant investments in aircraft-related infrastructure. Almost every city in the world has relatively convenient access to an airport. Where will these airships go? They'll certainly clog up the already busy airspace above large cities.

So there we go—no market and no real advantages. Plus, you'll be completely at the mercy of the wind.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 7:01 pm
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This:

Originally Posted by roberino View Post
There is world shortage of helium right now, so probably not financially viable.
and this:

Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Airship Ventures was operating in California for the past few years, both from the San Francisco and Long Beach areas. They closed up shop recently.
...pretty much sum up the chances of ever seeing airship tourism ever, uh, getting off the ground. It's a romantic notion but one that'll have to wait for a billionaire who is really into steampunk before it ever happens again.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 2:41 am
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Originally Posted by Javelin View Post
Others tout the use of airships as cargo movers—hauling standardized containers between continents. Until these airships can compete on cost with large cargo ships (which are very cheap), there won't be much advantage over the status quo. Furthermore, you simply can't compete with air freight on speed and flexibility.
As container transporters airships make no sense at all. The idea was actually to haul cargo too heavy for trucks and to remote areas.

That was the intended business model of the CargoLifter project. Which ran out of money a few years ago.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 8:17 am
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some people i knew were working on an airship to traverse from just east of the urals to the east coast of russia carring very heavy loads.it did use hydrogen gas. it had no crew aboard. summer is impassable in mid russia because it turns to mud and floods. they gave up because dealing with russia made the task an impossibility.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by Maluku_Flyer View Post
As container transporters airships make no sense at all. The idea was actually to haul cargo too heavy for trucks and to remote areas.

That was the intended business model of the CargoLifter project. Which ran out of money a few years ago.
Companies like Aeroscraft are actively developing cargo airships that they feel will introduce an intermediate between ships and airplanes. I personally don't see the point (and the project does look a bit like a stretch—see those vertical takeoff engines?) but they're certainly in development.
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