Sunday, 2 March 2014

iron zeppelin

From the Independent

Cranfield-based Hybrid Air Vehicles showed off their creation they said could also set a new benchmark for greener aircraft. Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson, who is also a professional airline pilot and co-funded the Airlander, compared the £30m aircraft to Thunderbird 2 and declared it a momentous day in aviation history.

He said: “This is a beautiful thing – the sheer imagination and scale of it – British-designed and built. Rarely do you get the chance to be involved in something really at the cutting edge of aviation. We have created the world’s largest aircraft from a shed in Bedford. It is something to be incredibly proud of.”

I don't really understand the blimp lobby calling for passenger services, but cargo would seem to have some uses, especially for slowly-perishable goods or equipment to places inland without good road access or airports. Instead of flying flowers out of Kenya on a plane, it might be that we can put them on an airship. It would take a couple of days to get them here, but be a lot cheaper than an aircraft.


Bayard said...

Just think where we could be with this technology if carried on with airships in the '30's instead of the government ordering the R100 to be scrapped. Ominously, the HAV304 was built in the same hangars as the ill-fated R101.
On another note, perhaps they should call the HAV304, "Eccentrica".

Bayard said...

You gotta love the Daily Fail. Their article on the HAV304 has this caption "Cardington hangar, which now houses the aircraft, was built 100 years ago and is where they built the ill-fated airship, R101 (pictured), in the 1920s" below a picture of an airship with "R100" on its side in huge characters.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes but is it a lighter than air thing or a slow moving very lightweight aeroplane?

The Stigler said...


I don't know. The aeroplane made such a huge leap in speed that once it was going, it was hard to see airships competing. And sea travel to the US is really about the experience of sea travel, and you can build huge ships with lots of facilities.

I see it more as a cargo thing to fill in some hard to reach places and for cargo that has certain speed requirements. Another example of this is PC manufacturers: for a lot of custom builds, they fly laptops out of China. That's 6000 miles, or something like 3 days flight in this thing.

There might be uses related to direct flying. I once added up the total time to go to Disneyland Paris by train and it was not much quicker than a car. All the connecting trains turned a 2.5 hr trip into more like a 7hr trip. If someone flew from near me to Disneyland by airship it would outrun that time. And I'm guessing this would not create the same noise as a jet.

View from the Solent said...

There could be a passenger use as the equivalent of a luxury cruise. More varied scenery than endless ocean.

The Stigler said...


You could do that over land. Flying to Italy, where you'd go over Provence and the Alps would be pretty cool.

Macheath said...

'...Provence and the Alps..'

I wonder how it copes at altitude.

Given that it doesn't need a runway and can carry far more than helicopters - not to mention its far greater range - it could be a real breakthrough for transporting supplies and passengers in remote mountainous regions.

Mark Wadsworth said...

McH, this one can't carry more than helicopters, it can carry ten tons, apparently a Chinook can carry 25 tons and as per usual, the Russians have built helicopters which can carry much more.

On the plus side

1) I'm sure it's cheaper, longer range, less noisy than helicopters.

2) If you look at it from the right angle, this one likes a giant bottom.

Macheath said...

MW, it's only the verb tense that was wrong:

The prototype on display in Cardington is the forerunner of the Airlander 50, a 50-tonne heavy lift hybrid vehicle that should be in the air this time next year.

On the plus side, 1 and 2 are certainly valid points - the 'giant bottom' analogy was memorably drawn by Evan Davies on the Today programme, to the manifest amusement of his co-presenter - but you left out 3)It's being backed by Bruce Dickinson!

Bayard said...

The Germans have something similar, built by Zeppelin, who else? They have already realised the potential of the airship as a mobile advertisement hoarding.