Are Airships Poised to Make a Comeback?


They say to never throw away your first ideal when working on a design, and that your first instinct typically has merit.  Applying that ideal to commercial air travel, we would more than likely come up with the airship.

Compared to jet aircraft, zeppelins use practically no fuel.  There are drawbacks in comparison, such as a limited seating capacity per trip and a top speed of only around 100 mph, but it is still faster than driving.  Not to mention the whole experience can be put together much as a great sightseeing trip.

To this end, SkyCat of Britain has new rigid airships being built, composed of proprietary synthetic materials that are stronger than steel and extremely leak resistant. The new zeppelins even have vertical lift technology that allow them to take off and land on their own, without the need of tethering ropes.

Are airships an ideal whose time has come back to being practical? The first thought many have of airships is the tragic Hindenberg, but the explosive gas used at the time, hydrogen, proved to be its downfall.  The USS Akron was much safer being helium filled, but it succumbed more or less due to a weather mishap. However, that was in1933, and weather tracking technology has vastly improved since then. 

It is hard to say what the public's reaction would be to such technology. I personally think that high speed rails may be the best choice for solving the growing high speed mass transit problem, but an airport of dirigibles to complement jet travel could be seen as a way to help air travel go much more green until such a system can be built.


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