The return of the blimp: First passanger blimps since 1937 may take off in 2025

gangleri2001

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Belfast by blimp: Airship service to offer eco-friendly five-hour flights from Liverpool
Airships for European city hops could cut flying’s carbon dioxide emissions by 90%
Wed, May 26, 2021, 12:00 Updated: Wed, May 26, 2021, 12:02
Rupert Neate

Hybrid Air Vehicles hopes to produce 12 of its Airlander 10 airships a year by 2025, each capable of carrying 100 people on short-haul flights. Photograph: Hybrid Air Vehicles

For those fancying a trip from Belfast to Liverpool or Barcelona to the Balearic Islands but concerned about the carbon footprint of aeroplane travel, a small UK company is promising a surprising solution: commercial airships.

Hybrid Air Vehicles, or HAV, which has developed a new environmentally friendly airship 84 years after the Hindenburg disaster, has today named a string of routes it hopes to serve from 2025.

The routes for the 100-passenger Airlander 10 airship include Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in 4½ hours. The company says the journey would take roughly the same time as aeroplane travel once getting to and from the airport was taken into account, but would generate a much smaller carbon footprint. HAV says the CO2 footprint per passenger on its airship would be about 4.5kg, compared with about 53kg via jet plane.

Belfast to Liverpool would take just over 5¼ hours; other routes planned include Oslo to Stockholm, in 6½ hours; and Seattle to Vancouver, in just over 4 hours.

HAV, which has in the past attracted funding from Peter Hambro, a founder of the Russian gold-miner Petropavlovsk, and the Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, says its aircraft are “ideally suited to intercity mobility applications like Liverpool to Belfast and Seattle to Vancouver, which Airlander can service with a tiny fraction of the emissions of current air options”.


Tom Grundy, HAV’s chief executive, who compares the Airlander to a “fast ferry”, says: “This isn’t a luxury product. It’s a practical solution to challenges posed by the climate crisis.”

He says that 47 per cent of regional aeroplane flights connect cities that are less than 370km apart, and emit a huge about of carbon dioxide doing so.

“We’ve got aircraft designed to travel very long distances going very short distances, when there is actually a better solution,” Grundy says. “How much longer will we expect to have the luxury of travelling these short distances with such a big carbon footprint?”

Grundy says the hybrid-electric Airlander 10 could make the same connections with 10 per cent of the carbon footprint from 2025, and with even smaller emissions in the future, when the airships are expected to be all-electric powered.

“It’s an early and quick win for the climate,” he says. “Especially when you use this to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”

HAV says it is talking to airlines about operating the routes, and expects to announce partnerships and airline customers in the next few months. The company has already signed a deal to deliver an airship to the luxury Swedish travel firm OceanSky Cruises, which has said it intends to use the craft to offer “experiential travel” over the North Pole with the Arctic explorer Robert Swan.

HAV’s aircraft was originally designed as a surveillance vehicle for intelligence missions in Afghanistan. HAV claims independent estimates put the value of the airship market at $50 billion (€40.9 billion) over the next 20 years. It aims to sell 265 of its Airlander craft over that period.

The €30 million Airlander 10 prototype undertook six test flights, some of which ended badly. It crashed in 2016 on its second test flight, after a successful 30-minute maiden trip. HAV tweeted at the time: “Airlander sustained damage on landing during today’s flight. No damage was sustained mid-air or as a result of a telegraph pole as reported.”

The aircraft, which can take off and land from almost any flat surface, reached heights of 7,000ft (2,100m) and speeds of up to 50 knots, or about 90kmph, during its final tests. The company has had UK government backing and grants from the European Union.

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and...ly-five-hour-flights-from-liverpool-1.4575716

Wow! This looks so promising.

These are the routes proposed thus far:

Liverpool - Belfast
Oslo - Stockholm
Barcelona - Palma de Mallorca
Vancouver - Seattle

Can't wait to go to Mallorca by blimp!

JUNE 20TH, 2022 UPDATE:

Air Nostrum has just announced that the first commercial blimp will take off during the summer of 2026. The chosen route will be the Barcelona - Palma de Mallorca route.

OCTOBER 14th, 2022 UPDATE:

OceanSky announced they'd be launching the first air cruise since the 1930's in the North Pole in February 2024.
 
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Kyriakos

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New Jersey blimp said:
The routes for the 100-passenger Airlander 10 airship include Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in 4½ hours. The company says the journey would take roughly the same time as aeroplane travel once getting to and from the airport was taken into account

Any reason to expect the blimp aerodrome to be considerably more accessible than the airport? It would still take time to get there, unless they plan to demolish parts of the center of the city for it.

One would also expect blimps to be far easier to hit (by terrorists, from the ground) than an airplane.
 
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r16

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1980s saw an interest in blimps as airborne radar platforms ; unless the crew/passenger section is directly hit by something really substantial it will not "fall" . The Goodyear blimps , famous as mobile billboards , routinely collected gunfire as an occupational hazard . More serious would be weather events . There was one over the big city nearby , surprisingly loud as ı personally saw it there , at something like under 100 or 50 meters . A strong storm one night and it is yet to be found after 20 years .
 

Birdjaguar

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I would support traveling by blimp!
 

Thorgalaeg

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It is OK until you find a somewhat strong wind and begin flying backwards. Also, hellium is only found in some natural gas fields (mostly in USA) and it is not that abundant nor cheap. You can also use hydrogen but pretty bad things can happen then.

There was a number of reasons for people to chose airplanes instead as soon as they became available. So I see this as a recreative thing, not as a substitute for jetliners in any environmentally meaningful way.
 
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Kyriakos

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I'm envisioning aerodromes atop city skyscrapers, much like the once-planned mooring for the Hindenburg atop the Empire State Building.

The traffic to the scyscraper would still be massive, even if it has an underground railway station attached - massive traffic in that line of the underground.
 

Kyriakos

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really

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I don't see the trade off.
Belfast to Liverpool by ferry is 8 or so hours + you have your car at either end.
By plane it is 50 mins in the air.
By blimp 4hours or so?
All three are internal within the UK so limited passport control (for the moment) plus all will have a certain amount of security.

It would have to offer a significant time or money saving to make up.
 

Kyriakos

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I don't see the trade off.
Belfast to Liverpool by ferry is 8 or so hours.
By plane it is 50 mins in the air.
By blimp 4hours or so?
All three are internal within the UK so limited passport control (for the moment) plus all will have a certain amount of security.

It would have to offer a significant time or money saving to make up.

Besides, who wants to approach London at a small height, from the south? :vomit:
 

r16

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two pictures , one is a thumb only

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2021-05-27-22-39-50--1326028318.jpg
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777px-Heinkel_He_111_over_Wapping,_East_London.jpg
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uppi

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The traffic to the scyscraper would still be massive, even if it has an underground railway station attached - massive traffic in that line of the underground.

The capacity of a subway line exceeds the capacity of an airport by far.
 

Bamspeedy

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The traffic to the scyscraper would still be massive, even if it has an underground railway station attached - massive traffic in that line of the underground.

How many blimps are going to depart per hour vs how many planes leave an airport every hour?

Unless this really catches on (unlikely), I imagine planes leaving the airport will have 10-100x or more departures than blimps leaving the skyscrapers.
 

EgonSpengler

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In the US, blimps would solve the problem of right-of-way and track construction for intercity trains, but I think travel time is the primary consideration for US travelers on commercial services (e.g. not driving), and I don't know if airships are so much faster than the existing train lines (the issue we're having with trains is with the high-speed trains you have in Europe and Asia, and I don't think airships are proposing to travel as fast as the TGV or Shinkansen). The Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington DC corridor is ~8 hours by (conventional) train or 90 minutes by plane, and the prices are comparable. For shorter trips, I think the train is probably better. New York to Philadelphia is ~2 hours by train, and you go from city center to city center, where most airports are outside the city. If an airship could actually take you into the city center, maybe it could compete with the trains on the shorter hops.

I notice the website for the train from Toronto to Montreal promotes "productive" time on the train (5 hr travel time) vs a plane (1.5 hr travel time + 2 hrs standing in lines) vs driving (5.5 hrs - I'm surprised the train isn't much faster than driving; I guess either it isn't a high-speed train, or it makes a lot of stops). An airship could perhaps try to sell its service on its amenities, but then you're cutting into passenger capacity and/or raising prices, same as a plane. Would an airship have more capacity for cargo than a plane? I presume fuel is a major cost for planes, so if airships are massively more fuel efficient, maybe they could translate that into more space per passenger and/or cargo (and 'cargo' could include things like better food for the passengers).

An airship can beat a train anywhere there's a big body of water, but there aren't a ton of huge water obstacles between the big N. American cities. Would an airship route unleash a great surge of travel between Tampa and New Orleans? Or Detroit and Milwaukee? I guess it's possible.
 

really

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I think they give the Belfast - Liverpool and Barcelona - Majorca as examples as they are over sea and a fast train isn't realistic.

So it is a straight ferry vs plane comparison.

I would have imagined blimps would be useful for carrying heavy things medium distances.

Mr. Von Zeppelin came through my checkout many years ago.
 

EgonSpengler

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I think they give the Belfast - Liverpool and Barcelona - Majorca as examples as they are over sea and a fast train isn't realistic.

So it is a straight ferry vs plane comparison.
Right, so in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of planes, you'd be looking at existing busy transport lines between cities separated by a stretch of water, but not too far apart. I don't know how many cities fit that bill around the globe (Auckland to Sydney would be 24 hours at 90kph; Tokyo to Seoul would be 13 hours - how many people would do that?). I wonder, for example, how many short-hop flights are taken on a daily basis by people in the Caribbean or the island chains in the Western Pacific.
 
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Sofista

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Compared to airplanes, blimps have two actual advantages: they're more fuel-efficient and they can stop in mid-air.
Someone will surely do the maths and see if it's worth it, but at the very least they could cover a niche similar to historic steam trains.
 
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