Did lockheed not consider....
the evil genius market?
If I was an evil genius I'd want one.
The famous P-791 prototype airship - built last decade for a military transport programme which eventually came to nothing - is to give birth to new, mighty commercial versions of itself with Canadian financial backing. Alberta-based private company Aviation Capital Enterprises says it has inked a deal with US aerospace …
How many others have gazed on those RAF Cardington hangars with a great sense of loss every time they go past?
I was also amazed to find that US aircraft-carrying derigibles weren't just a work of fantasy fiction - they really could move along fast enough to deploy and retrieve fighter planes in mid-air. Let's have a new golden age of transport blimps.
...I would get the opportunity in my lifetime to see large dirigibles flying over-head... they might not be the impressive rigid beasties of yesteryear, but I will take what I can get. Small advertising/passenger blimps might be all well and good, but they do not instill the sense of wonder of the LTA monsters they are talking about now.
Looking forward to this.
...are not completely out of use - one evening just last week there was a small, lit-up-from-the-inside, airship flying around. We never get anything on the scale of yesteryear (or these new jobbies, for that matter) of course, but it's still cool when something goes up from there. They get used for a lot of film and telly stuff too.
one of the Cardington Hangars (the tidier one) is quite often used by bands to set up their full concert rig in preparation for a tour, its one of the few indoor places that is big enough to set one up for a long enough period of time to iron out all the bugs.
its also used as indoor set space for quite a bit of TV / Film work
also sometimes used by hot air balloon companies to carry out CAA inspections on balloons during bad weather since they are tall enough to have even the largest balloon stood up inside them.
in short Cardington is very much in use, just not in ways that they were originally intended for
There are exceptions to every rule and the LEMV program is one of them, as Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles are building three HAV 304's with all the latest remote control, top of the range surveillance equipment and associated ground stations. With the 517 million LEMV contract behind them, Northrop and HAV are now very definitely leaders in the hybrid air vehicle sector and first flight will be late this summer, on budget and on time.
I realise the relies on the honesty of the people now hastily making the patents...
rather than downward motors, how about fitting these machines with a spare couple of gas bottles and a compressor.
Need extra bouyancy release the valves perhaps to inflate additional airbags on the side above or below.
Too much bouyancy run the compressors suck some gas out and save it for later.
I appriciate that kit is heavyish but not in the order of hundreds of tonnes which this thing can carry.
"""rather than downward motors, how about fitting these machines with a spare couple of gas bottles and a compressor."""
Thermodynamics is unfortunately quite opposed to this idea. I did some quick calculations when ElReg ran that article on the quad rotor blimp chopper contraption, and given probably fuel efficiencies (20% for a turbine, 40% for a diesel, turbine has much better power / weight ratio, though) and energy lost to compression (The gas heats up quite a lot,) plus the increase of potential energy in the form of gas pressure, it won't even sort of work out. Burning liquid fuel makes your airship lighter, and no fuel has an energy density high enough to compress gas efficiently enough to offset it's own mass. So you compress gas and make the situation worse.
Conservative estimates showed that the quad chopper blimp wouldn't be able to lift the fuel and combined cooling system required for the engine, compressor, and storage bottles, since something like 97% of the fuel energy would exit via exhaust pipe or radiator(s,) requiring lots of fuel and lots of radiators (More radiators for faster compression, assuming you don't want to spend multiple days slowly pulling off cargo as the compressors make progress.) And that doesn't even count the weight of the engine, compressor, storage bottles, or plumbing.
It's just not possible for too many reasons.
One potential use case would be to compete with the 'Ice Road Truckers' who bring in supplies to the miners in remote parts of Canada.
How much would it cost to move 20t of material per nautical km, and how fast could it travel?
If its price competitive, then it could probably be used to move most of the stuff that's big, but not really too big.
The new generation of hybrid air vehicles like the 20T HAV 266 that is under development by Northrop Grumman's partner Hybrid Air Vehicles in England, would not compete with the ice road truckers for the 3 months or so, that the ice roads are open. Those few stormy months would be used for annual maintenance and crew holidays.
What is really bugging the big players in the mining and oil & gas sectors is that depending on ice roads means they take ages to develop a new mine or field. In the case of a mine they do need supplies and personnel all year, but where the mine is in a very remote location, as most of the remaining sites are, there is no economic way of doing that at present.
Northern Canada, that would be the place with blizards, and other fun Met conditions.
Whilst I personally believe there is a place for LTA transport within comercial and military avaiation, and it would be low impact for the area in question, I do have to question how well thought out the proposed use is.
LTA's have an inherently large cross section by comparison to the amount of power they have available, which would make it a "fair weather" transport, which I doubt is somthing a high value 24/7/365 oil or mining op is likely to want to rely on.
>> Northern Canada, that would be the place with blizards, and other fun Met conditions.
But unlike the Ice Roads and the trucks that use them, this doesn't need the ground to be frozen solid. For that reason it should be able to operate all year round, rather than for just 2 or 3 months during winter. That very much takes the urgency off things and means you can hold off (and presumably park in a big hangar) when the weather is bad.
When I watch Ice Road Truckers, I think how much we take it for granted that we can get stuff delivered pretty much whenever we want. The idea of having to plan up to a year in advance what parts and materials you are going to want makes me glad I'm not involved in planning operations over there !
The ice roads in Northern Canada are open from between 3 to 4 months during the winter. The main use of a hybrid air vehicle like the HAV 266, would be outside of the period the ice roads are open. The HAV series do not respond to side gusts like an airship and they can even land off the wind as the hoverskirt works with a sideways movement. The basic aerodynamics of a lifting body vehicle are very different to a normal airship and far better in groundhandling terms in particular, which is one reason why the LEMV contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles for three HAV 304's.
JB (Airship & Blimp Consultant)
This vehicle is far too complex and unwieldy to ever make it into production. It will get killed off in the final prototype stage when the technical problems spiral out of control.
If you need a VTOL aircraft that can lift 20 tonnes, then a MIL Mi26 helicopter is the proven solution.
Many heavy industries are limited in the size of products they can build because of the problems moving them by roads (narrow roads, underpasses and bridges and power lines). This technology would solve those problems and allow engineers working for factories in your area to build new monstrous machines that no one dreamed possible before... and deliver them to the customer in one piece... like factory built homes.
When loaded the Mil 26 only has a fairly short range and the fuel burn of the two 10 to 12,000 shp turbines is horrendous. The biggest problem in both Northern Canada and Afghanistan in particular is lack of fuel or the serious cost of setting up big fuel dumps to allow the use of heavy lift helicopters.
More like a modified Hoover than a modified Otter. Beautiful concept but not quite wacky enough to keep the US DoD interested for enough billion$.
So we started off building Mozzies and Lancs for you Brits and wind up building Sabre engines (Orenda) for the RAF and RCAF before inventing the long lamented CF-105 Arrow. All this in a building originally called "Victory Aircraft" in Malton, Ontario.
Fortunately sanity prevailed and today we have ... the Metro Toronto Convention Centre ... instead of actual industry.
You are on the right track though, skirts are intended for lifting!
Nobody criticizes the despoiling of Wilderness in Alberta. That's why Canada GAVE them the freakin land in the first place. ...
Hmmm how are we going to get rid of all of the native people on that land ... Brilliant! we'll give it to Alberta, they'll kill em all off! and bury the evidence in toxic waste!
A wheeled undercarriage means you "spread" the force of impact of the couple of square metres of tyres actually touching the ground. Landing on an air cushion you spread the load over the entire air-cushion area, which is many times more than the area of the tyres. This means the impact is much less, as much less pressure needs to be developed to generate the same force to negate the downward motion (i.e. to decelerate).
Firstly, the Canadian aircraft given an air cushion landing gear was the DHC Buffalo.
The persistent dream of airship nuts is that somehow, somewhere, something will overcome the well proven disadvantages. Nothing has done so far and this will not either.
The payload is piffling for something of this likely expense.
The operating limitations of weather, wind and precipitation will make this uncertain transport especially over longer distances.
Storing/parking the thing when it is not in use (most of the time) is a damn nuisance, especially in bad weather.
Too often their won't be an exact 20 ton load to maximise its potential so they will be faced whether it is worth using it inefficiently for a smaller load.
The old saw about it being useful in moving outsize objects around the world overlooks the sheer slowness of these things and the required crew manning for weeks long journeys. These outsize objects also require a vastly larger airship of vastly larger cost and even less utility.
No, the facts are that unmanned long duration flights with small payloads are entirely viable. Short duration manned flights with modest payloads to an undemanding timetable also have a modest demand.
Outside that it is not workable
A hybrid air vehicle like the HAV 304 or 266 will not suffer the same operating limitations as airships because it has a very different mode of operation and very different aerodynamics. It also has far better groundhandling and the limits will be similar to a big helicopter.
The interest of the military, mining sector and oil and gas folks, is that they all need a long range point to point transport solution. The helicopter or tilit rotor aircraft can do short range tasks, although they use far more fuel, BUT there is no aircraft other than an HAV that can do longer range fuel efficient point to point cargo. That fact has been known for some time, but the Gulf wars and Afghanistan in particular has convinced the US military it needs a new off airport cargo aircraft that does not need to refuel every few hundred miles and does not cost 12,000 dollars per hour to operate like the Osprey. On the civil side the requirement is also the same and the 9 fold increase in one year of the value of rare earth metal ores that are to be found in the remote areas of both Northern Canada and Afghanistan, has some very big players waiting for the first flight of the HAV 304 late this summer, as it will mark the start of a new fuel efficient era for air transport.
The Canadian aircraft with the air cushion landing gear was the DHC Buffalo. The concept was tried initially at a smaller scale on a Lake Buccaneer.
Although airship zealots dream of their craft somehow overcoming slow speed, weather activity, vast size comparative to payload, awkward ground handling and parking, altitude limitation, relatively fragile structure and sensitive flight handling, the problems cannot be overcome by this or any other craft.
The old saw about taking outsize structures to unprepared strips in remote places ignores a raft of issues from miserable payload to large crewing problems over a multiday journey.
Small unmanned payloads airborne for long periods works fine and is viable. Modest payloads on manned craft with relaxed deadlines also commands a modest requirement. The rest is never going to make it.
I suppose the 'joke alert' tag was misguided and the subtle irony fell flat...
I was more thinking about 20 tons (or aspiring to 100's of tons) of flamable petrochemical products being transported in such a manner should be questioned... hence the link...
Sorry for making it look too much like a funny... it would of come across more eliquently verbaly rather than in text...
I for one would like these airship return to our skies what a way to tour the world all they need is more powerful engines to over come the heavy winds how about mooring them in city centers and easing the pressure of airports. It would be great for a leisurely tour of the world what a relaxing journey through the skies.
The Skytug is not going to impress the US military any more than the P791 did and one big reason is basic crash worthiness. When you operate in a hostile invironment with new pilots, you have to accept there might be some incidents involving a nose down impact on landing, in particular due to whiteout induced pilot error for example, which has caused a number of helicopter losses. All of the proposed Skytug hovershirts are behind the cabin and a nose down impact will smash the cabin first.
The HAV 266 from Hybrid Air Vehicles was designed by Roger Munk who has a reputation second to none for building tough airships like the Skyship series that are incredibly crash worthy. The twin hoverskirts on the 266 extend forward of the cabin and will offer a high degree of impact resistance when combined with the structure above them and the fact that the gondola is designed to be pushed into the envelope above it more easily than the twin hoverskirts, it should provide a high degree of protection to the occupants of the gondola.
In my opinion the folks behing this Skytug design do not have a clue what they are doing and I think the US military agreed with that opinion as they awarded the 517 million dollar LEMV contract to Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles.