Feeds

Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base

UK designers buy baby back from broke US Army

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Seventy per cent greener?

It's true, vessels along Airlander lines are quieter than jets when you're standing next to them. But when you're standing on the ground, ducted props driven by Centurion V8s at a few thousand feet wouldn't be as quiet as a cargo jet at stratospheric cruising altitude.

It's true in the same way that a cargo airship could move a given load using less fuel than a jet: but Dickinson's claim that it would be "70 per cent greener" is a bit suspect. As we've established on these pages before, an airship would burn perhaps 40 per cent less fuel to move a given load compared to a plane. The other thirty per cent green-ness comes from the not terribly well-supported idea that exhaust CO2 emitted at higher altitudes is much more ecologically damaging than it would be if released down near the surface: hence low-flying airships are greener than high-flying jets.

Still, at least Dickinson and HAV/Airlander have eased down their predecessor firm SkyCat's claim to be ninety per cent greener than planes. And a 40 per cent fuel saving is definitely good.

Unfortunately an airship takes an awful lot longer to move its load than a jet. The Airlander will probably cruise, like the LEMV, at 80 knots (around 90 mph), as opposed to a jet's 550-odd. This will tend to rule it out of most of the passenger trade, fuel savings or no.

There's always air cargo, but generally things are sent by air because they need to arrive in a hurry: if there's no hurry then ships, trucks and railways will beat airships on cost, energy efficiency and green-ness. Most air cargo travels on passenger flights anyway. There might be a small niche in the business of moving cargo between airports for Airlanders, but probably not.

So Airlander will need to do something else: something that aeroplanes and helicopters can't do.

There is such a thing, of course.

"It doesn't need a runway," Dickinson tells the BBC. "And it can plonk 50 tonnes anywhere in the world you like, which is 50 times more than a helicopter."

There are a lot of rival plonker ideas out there

Actually there are helicopters which can plonk 14 tonnes or even more - but he's right, there aren't any that can do 50. And he's right again, there are plenty of places that helicopters can't get to due to their limited range. This is why airship enthusiasts tend to envision future ships being used to deliver heavy loads to inaccessible, undeveloped places, perhaps supporting oil or gas drilling or for disaster relief.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?