Company aims to offer short-haul airship travel by 2025, helping reduce airline industry's...

midian182

Posts: 6,898   +62
Staff member
Forward-looking: Reducing the aviation industry's carbon footprint isn't an easy task, but a UK company hopes to lower carbon emissions that come from flying by up to 90% through the use of commercial airships for traveling between cities.

The Airlander 10, created by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), uses four combustion engines and offers a 75% reduction in emissions over comparable aircraft. The firm aims to develop a hybrid-electric version of its airship by 2025 that will reduce emissions by 90%. Eventually, it plans to transition all four engines to electric, making it a zero-emissions aircraft.

HAV has named routes for the 100-passenger Airlander 10 that it hopes will be in service by 2025. These include Seattle to Vancouver, which will take just over four hours, and Oslo to Stockholm in six and a half hours. The company said its aircraft was "ideally suited to inter-city mobility applications," which it can complete with "a tiny fraction of the emissions of current air options."

Traveling from Liverpool to Belfast, each passenger in the Airlander 10 would have a CO2 footprint of 4.5kg, whereas a jet plane's per-passenger figure would be 67.75kg.

"This isn't a luxury product it's a practical solution to challenges posed by the climate crisis," said Tom Grundy, HAV's chief executive.

The helium-filled Airlander 10 will be certified to fly in all weather conditions, have a 4,000 nautical mile range, and be able to travel at a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet. HAV said it is in discussions with a number of airlines to operate the routes and expects to make related announcements in the coming months.

The Airlander 10 was originally developed for the US army as surveillance and communications platforms in Afghanistan, but defense spending cuts saw HAV purchase the craft back from the military in 2013 for $293,000. After completing its maiden voyage in 2016, the blimp crashed into the ground on landing during its second test run, though no damage was sustained. HAV previously talked about offering "luxury expeditions" and glass-floored cabins in its aircraft.

Permalink to story.

 

bviktor

Posts: 420   +737
I think it'll be next to impossible to market, everyone will just shout "Hindenburg, Hindenburg", ignoring the fact that that one used flammable Hydrogen whereas this one uses Helium.
 

whateversa

Posts: 40   +51
I thought we had a serious helium shortage for this to really replace all planes.
There was a huge helium discovery here in South Africa. Also I was under the impression we can already make huge improvements with current aircraft by using bio fuels - the problem is the entire industry needs to participate... it is a goal more reachable than electric engines apparently.

I do wonder what the top speed of this thing will be
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,719   +3,726
I thought we had a serious helium shortage for this to really replace all planes.
Something people don't consider is that nuclear reactors give off tons of helium nuclei, it just hasn't gotten to be a big enough deal yet for someone to develop a system to collect it.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 689   +1,217
There was a huge helium discovery here in South Africa. Also I was under the impression we can already make huge improvements with current aircraft by using bio fuels - the problem is the entire industry needs to participate... it is a goal more reachable than electric engines apparently.

I do wonder what the top speed of this thing will be
That does makes it viable.

And the speeds will probably be rather slow, in fact slower than even a car: Seattle to Vancouver is about 170km or a bit over 100 miles so it should take you about 2 hours even if you drive conservatively at 55mph all the way through and the article quotes that at the 4 hours mark so this is about as fast as a train, except without the need to deploy infrastructure.

It has it's uses as I believe these kind of short flights of 100 to 300 miles in range are usually distances people might not want to use their car for and really take regular airplanes more time to prepare take off and landing than the actual flight time.

But I still think that given the helium deposits you mention (I wasn't aware of them by the way) and the fairly abandoned state of train infrastructure, it's a decent choice.

Trains would be better imo, but if there's just no willingness to invest in proper tracks anymore at the very least these slow moving aircraft serving the same fuction at a fraction of the carbon footprint are a welcome relief.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,502   +3,739
That does makes it viable.

And the speeds will probably be rather slow, in fact slower than even a car: Seattle to Vancouver is about 170km or a bit over 100 miles so it should take you about 2 hours even if you drive conservatively at 55mph all the way through and the article quotes that at the 4 hours mark so this is about as fast as a train, except without the need to deploy infrastructure.

It has it's uses as I believe these kind of short flights of 100 to 300 miles in range are usually distances people might not want to use their car for and really take regular airplanes more time to prepare take off and landing than the actual flight time.

But I still think that given the helium deposits you mention (I wasn't aware of them by the way) and the fairly abandoned state of train infrastructure, it's a decent choice.

Trains would be better imo, but if there's just no willingness to invest in proper tracks anymore at the very least these slow moving aircraft serving the same fuction at a fraction of the carbon footprint are a welcome relief.
The issue with trains is mainly cost. Maintaining that infastructure is really costly, too costly to make any money, and sharing tracks with freight trains is too much of a PITA, as amtrak shows. Even as a train guy, I'll easily admit that passenger trains jsut are not going to work in the USA, especially in the era of the internet. It's not even that much cheaper then flying.

Airships I could see working, if they are notably cheaper then planes and can offer the level of luxury that first class flying used to in the 60s. EG comfortable seats, in flight meals, drinks, ece. The cabin in the pics looks really nice, and if I had to fly to another state for a weekend getaway I might be convinced to use such an airship. Parking a car in a big city is such a PITA.
 

mbk34

Posts: 183   +123
If the price wasn't silly money then I'd love to use it. I quite fancy the idea of sipping gin and tonics on a comfy chair while watching the clouds slide past under the transparent floor.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 167   +104
Airships I could see working, if they are notably cheaper than planes and can offer the level of luxury that first class flying used to in the 60s. EG comfortable seats, in flight meals, drinks, ece. The cabin in the pics looks really nice, and if I had to fly to another state for a weekend getaway I might be convinced to use such an airship. Parking a car in a big city is such a PITA.

I don't see how they could be significantly cheaper than an aircraft. This airship needs a runway to land and take off, a massive hanger to contain it and a large tie-off area for loading and unloading. The 4 hours it takes to get from Vancouver to Seattle doesn't account for all the other time it takes to prepare for normal air travel.

I would never fly from Seattle to Vancouver via passenger plane simply because the time it takes to get to the airport, go through security and get to the terminal is about half the time it takes to drive there. And if you drive yourself you aren't limited to two bags and you can leave when you want.

If the accommodations are super nice they will have to be expensive. If the prices are cheap the accommodations won't be that nice and it won't be a great place to be for 4 hours.
 
Last edited:

GeforcerFX

Posts: 1,017   +478
While I have been a fan of the hybrid airship designs and concepts, this isn't what they are really designed for. These passenger routes also happen to be the lengths that pure electric aircraft can also cover. Anything sub 500 miles can use a pure electric design and be able to run that route twice in the time it takes this thing to do it once.
 

Mugsy

Posts: 721   +155
This would be great for International travel, but domestically, MagLev bullet trains make MUCH more sense as a Green alternative.

The U.S. should build the "tracks" along/over/under the existing Interstate Highway System, while airlines build the trains and provide service. "PanAm Rail" anyone?
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 1,017   +478
This would be great for International travel, but domestically, MagLev bullet trains make MUCH more sense as a Green alternative.

The U.S. should build the "tracks" along/over/under the existing Interstate Highway System, while airlines build the trains and provide service. "PanAm Rail" anyone?
In what way would international travel at 80mph be great? a 12 hour flight from LA to Tokyo becomes a multi day trip. Maglev like any train solution only makes cost sense in high population dense areas. The USA is far from that with only 4-5 major population zones, and really only 2 that high speed rail makes sense in (one of those already has our high speed lines, NEC). The infrastructure cost of running maglev rail to all the major cities in the USA would be far to insane and would take decades to earn back in revenue.