Hybrid Air VehiclesPosted by John Timbers Wed, April 22, 2015 15:14:59
is flying and has a few orders under its belt (or a clutch of wealthy backers with faith in its future potential) the developers have expressed the hope that they will be able to turn their attention to the R&D necessary to produce an all-electric version for the future, powered by solar panels.
While even its current prototype will be many times cleaner than any aircraft now flying (like-for-like) there is huge scope for improvement. Solar panel technology is becoming more and more efficient by the day and no doubt, given the opportunity and incentive to develop it, the industry could easily weave the photo-voltaic cells into the ultra-strong kevlar-based material used in the 'skin' of the fuselage/helium tanks giving it its lighter-than-air flight capacity.
The weight of batteries (or whatever future storage technology demands) able to store excess electric power from the solar panel arrays (that excess could be potentially very large – not being earthbound, the Airlander has almost constant access to sunlight for the duration of any flight) would be chickenfeed compared to the cargo capacity of such an aircraft.
To keep it clean, back up drives will use hydrogen fuel cells, which – by the time such an aircraft gets off the ground – will be in routine use for power drive units in light aircraft, having survived (one hopes) all the attempts of vested interests in conventional carbon-based fuel drives to knock them off course.
If I can make it to a hundred, I hope to see such beautiful LTA craft sailing silently and gracefully through our bllue skies
Hybrid Air VehiclesPosted by John Timbers Wed, April 22, 2015 12:14:11
I've just joined the HAV Club for the princely sum of £25, for which I gain several privileged concessions, including access to the huge hangars at Cardington where the Airlander
is being developed for civil transport purposes. I wish I had a few thou' to invest but it's the wrong time of life for me. In any case, they need the Bransons of the UK industry to get behind them. The little guys can all help nevertheless.
For those who've never heard of this fascinating machine, all the details can be found on the internet. It's an exciting advanced aero-engineering project with huge potential for further development towards sustainable, clean, quiet flight, which might just entice the travelling population of the world back to a more comfortable and enjoyable mode of getting around the world – safe, luxurious (potentially more so than in modern luxury liners), slow (but not as slow as travelling by sea and not limited to seaport access).
It is, of course, a use of advanced technology that challenges the prerogatives of the world's 'conventional' aircraft designers, with their predilection for speed and their consequent 'attachment' to large airports with long runways and their consequent need for the infrastructure of land communication/transport links. There will no doubt be a battle for future funding, with powerful vested interests playing a destructive part in this small company's future.
It already has some (fairly paltry) UK Government and EU funding support but nothing like the money behind the aircraft industry giants, whose knowledge of their market competition and the dirty tricks of the financial world will challenge the highly motivated and enthusiastic men and women behind the Airlander project.
I would urge you, people, to get behind this imaginative and innovative project. It is definitely not a backward step towards the R101 and Hindenberg days of clumsy and potentially dangerous dirigibles. It's a project that should appeal to everyone interested in a future of clear blue skies (fewer con trails), less obsession with speed, less noise, less consumption of carbon-based fuels, cleaner air (fewer giant airliners dumping unwanted, unburnt fuel into the upper atmosphere, to say nothing of their exhaust fumes).
Better still, it's a British project in origin (despite it's brief love affair with the US Airforce development program). It has advantages over its competition but needs backing to stay ahead in what could well be the new way ahead for modern aviation.
I wish them luck.