The two huge hangars at Cardington airfield, 50 miles north of London, stand as witness to the golden age of the airships in the 1930s. Inside one of them, a successor to those giants of the sky is being prepared for flight. British company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is pursuing the goal held by so many proponents of lighter-than-air (LTA) and related technology for so many years. The goal of revolutionizing the air cargo market–and maybe also the persistent surveillance market–with buoyant lift.
Roger Munk’s sudden and untimely death in February 2010 at the age of 62 robbed the airship industry of a true pioneer. He had led a series of British companies specializing in lighter-than-air technology (LTA) for nearly 40 years. HAV was his latest company, founded in 2007 to take forward the hybrid concepts that, he eventually concluded, offered more promise for the future than conventional airships. Before that, his life had been starred with technical success and marred with financial failure.
In recent years, major aerospace companies such as BAE Systems, Boeing and EADS have all expressed interest in lighter-than-air and hybrid air vehicles, for ISR and remote heavy airlift applications. But apart from HAV, only Lockheed Martin (LM) has progressed beyond the drawing board.
In the 1990s, prompted by Fred Smith of Federal Express, the renowned Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, studied concepts for a huge cargo-carrying hybrid named the Aerocraft.
Not to be confused with the Aerocraft that was designed by the Skunk Works in the 1990s (see box, “The Road Not Needed”), the Aeroscraft is promoted by Aeroscraft Corp., which is led by entrepreneur and inventor Igor Pasternak. It is a very large rigid airship for cargo transport that Pasternak proposes to build in two sizes. The ML866 would be 555 feet long and carry 66 tons; while the ML868 would be 770 feet long and carry 250 tons.
Commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is possible once manufacturers demonstrate the airworthiness of their designs, according to the manager of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office. “It’s a two-way street,” advised Jim Williams. “The FAA can’t pull the industry up.”
Worldwide Aeros’s Aeroscraft cargo-carrying airship could change the way transport logistics have traditionally been done with airplanes, trains, ships, trucks and other vehicles. According to Worldwide Aeros (Hall 6 B30) CEO and chief engineer Igor Pasternak, two versions of the Aeroscraft will be available, one offering a 66-ton payload and a larger version with a 250-ton payload. The U.S Department of Defense (DOD) has invested more than $60 million in the Aeroscraft airship over the past seven years and ordered 24. Deployment is expected by 2021, he said.
The Northrop Grumman long endurance, multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) has made a 90-minute first flight, about one year behind schedule. The 304-foot-long optionally manned hybrid airship was released from tether at Lakehurst, N.J. on August 7, according to the sponsoring agency, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC).
Northrop Grumman broke a long silence on the long endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) this week, when an official told the website wired.com that the much-delayed hybrid air vehicle (HAV) will fly for the first time next week. Earlier, when contacted by AIN, the sponsoring U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) declined to predict a date for that event. Meanwhile, the U.S.
The first scheduled commercial airline service was operated on Jan. 1, 1914, with a flight between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla., in a Benoist biplane flying boat.
That’s what Wikipedia would have us believe. And the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum agrees. There’s even a plaque marking the event in St. Petersburg.
Unglamorous though they are, aerostats are carving a substantial niche in the airborne surveillance business. They come in all sizes, from 30 feet long and a volume of 2,500 cu ft, to a massive 242 feet and 590,000 cu ft.
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