Green Futuristic Airships Coming to a Sky Near You?

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
click to enlarge

“The notion that airships represent the future of air cargo is being revived by a new generation of entrepreneurs some 75 years after a catastrophic fireball brought the industry to a screeching halt.”

That’s the intro to a piece on The Daily Climate on these promising, Super Cool airships of the 21st century. These low-carbon options for air cargo transport are currently being targeted at China, Africa, northern Canada, and other developing markets where there currently isn’t much (or any) transportation infrastructure. Here’s a little more:

Far safer than the Hindenburg, whose tragic 1937 docking remains an icon of aerospace gone wrong, these modern airships are a hybrid of lighter-than-air and fixed-wing aircraft. They can loft enormous payloads without requiring the acres of tarmac or miles of roadway necessary for conventional air and truck transport. And they do so at a fraction of the fuel and cost of aircraft.

Airships “give you access and much larger payloads at much lower costs,” said Peter DeRobertis, project leader for commercial hybrid air vehicles at Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics and Skunk Works division in Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s also a green aircraft; you’re not polluting.”

Look promising. These airships could be used for transporting all sorts of goods directly to the customer — from fruit and vegetables to heavy industrial equipment.

Are these futuristic airships really on their way?

A few companies are currently developing prototypes. Lockheed has one called SkyTug that it anticipates will be commercially available by late 2013. SkyTug will have a” range of 1,000 nautical miles and a 20-ton payload.” A more heavy-duty airship, a 50-ton “Skyfreighter,” should follow that on in late 2014.

The industry’s future is initially aimed at leapfrogging the conventional cargo transport infrastructure, freighting goods where highways and airports don’t exist – Canada’s frozen north; China’s western frontier; remote parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. No airships are commercially available for cargo transport there yet. But once established on the frontiers, experts say their versatility, cost and fuel advantages should allow airships to penetrate mature freight markets like the United States.

This new generation of airships is apparently much improved compared to previous generations and has overcome critical weaknesses. Look for airships overhead in the years to come.

For more, check out: Floating into the future

Related Stories:

Image via Millenium Airship & The Daily Climate



Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica TV Video


I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
 
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
 
Thank you!

Advertisement
 
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7285 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan