Sunday, December 30, 2007

Russian Airship Videos

Stanislav from English Page) posted a great video from the MAKS 2007 that we would like to share. If you do not remember read our post about MAKS from September 2007.
Тележурнал "Воздух!" №3 (click here to view the video)

More videos can also be seen at is if I am correct the Russian Aeronautical Society. They have a great page about all Russian Airships as we have mentioned in May of this year

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Massaud - Manned Cloud Hotel

In November we featured a post about the Stratocruiser and that designers discover airships in this article we also mentioned a site by the designer Jean-Marie Massaud his website features the picture of a great white whale like airship. Now we have kept our eyes open and here is what we found out. It seems to be a project that is not really new. Even though it seems to get attention just in the last few months as it makes it's way through the Blogosphere. The first mentions of this project seem to be in French websites as early as January 2007. One mention is from (English translation here) and Cote (English translation here) also containing pictures.
A little later in in February 2007 there was a post at which contains the most pictures of the Massaud Manned Cloud which are known to me.
We also found a video on a site that was written in Spanish and has a copyright of 2006 (English translated version here). We uploaded the video to YouTube so that you watch is easily.

As Mentioned earlier in this posts there was quite some coverage about the airship in the last few weeks. It is supposed to be a hotel for eco tourism, able to fly 280km/h and provide 60 rooms for passengers enjoying it's 3 day cruise around the world and as many project state it could be realized as soon as next year.
Considering no airship ever flew that fast it's an ambitious project. According to Modern-Airships the fastest Airship to date was the Macon with about 140 km/h this ship would have to fly twice as fast. Also having 60 rooms on 500 square meters seems like a big step, considering the Hindenburg had about that size of space. Today the largest Airship the Zeppelin NT can carry 12 passengers maximum. So this is another visionary project that we will keep looking into. But till today an airship that can match the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, Akron or Macon still has to be built.
So here is the rest of the Coverage about the Massaud Manned Cloud Airship.
As always our friends at Aerocrat where a good source. check out their post about the Massaud Airship here (English page here)
But also did their homework well in their Post called "Manned Cloud by Massaud Studio – The flying eco-hotel!" they linked to a some great sources:
One last source also seems to be design-italia with their post "Maned Cloud, Jean-Marie Massaud" (English translation here). We are sure that there is more but we are also wondering how much of this is actually feasible . Right now it seems to be a dream of a designer without much of an engineering background but we love to be wrong on that. If you have more information pictures, numbers, videos anything that might be of interest post a comment or send us an email.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Helion project

France should never be underestimated when it comes to Lighter Than Air. Even though Germany, Britain, and the US are the usual suspects for LTA news, France is always a great place for new innovative ideas. Today I would like to introduce you to another great idea that is coming from France. "The Helion project" is a concept of an ultralight motorized glider with VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capabilities. It has been featured already in Gliding Magazine in 2005 so it is no new kid on the block. Jospeh Loury the creator of the Helion project just sent out a new Presentation about the project as PDF that you can download here. It explains the project in more detail and also contains some more pictures that can also be found on the Helion project website together with an even more extensive PDF with more background information that can be downloaded from here. What do you think of the project? Tell us in the comments section or send us an email. We love to hear more from you. And if you have questions don't hesitate to ask. We will try to get Joseph Loury for an interview to get more insights into his project.
Oh and yes for all subscribers to the Blog, a belated Xmas gift. All posts are now published completely with all links and images no more summary posts in the feed. But please, stop by at the website too, we would miss you as our visitors. If you have not subscribed yet, please do so either by subscribing to the RSS feed or by Email. If you need any help or assistance please don't hesitate to drop us a line, we will help you getting set up with feed reader. If you don't know which one to use I am using Bloglines and it's working great for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Airship Xmas Cards

Throughout the Holiday Season one usually gets a lot of Christmas cards, these are just four cards that I got this Xmas, anyone else got some nice Airship related Xmas cards?

The first one is from our friends at Airshipventures Brian and Alexandra Hall they are working hard on getting the first Zeppelin NT to the American continent. For news around their venture also check out their well written Blog "Up Ship!"
The second card comes from Zeppelintours by John Christopher from Airshipinitiatives. Your one stop shop for your Zeppelin tourism needs world wide.
The last two cards where sent to the Airship-list by Ken DeLacy and I have to thank him for pointing me to the website where he got them from. These last to cards are out of the Navy Department Library and are part of the Macon collection

Do you have any more airship related Xmas cards or collectibles? Let us know we will be happy to feature them. Or maybe you have other Holiday Cards and collectibles that we could feature ? How a bout new years, easter or thanksgiving ?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays from everyone at Airshipworld

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to each and everyone out there. I and the team of Airshipworld would like to thank you as our reader for this last year. The Airshipworld Blog is not even a year old but we have established a loyal readership and want to thank everyone who is reading this blog for giving us a chance as the new kid on the block. We want to thank each and everyone of those 15.000 people that have visited our Blog throughout the last year. When I first started out with this project in March 2007 I didn't expect this tremendous success. I have made a lot of new friends in this last year and I, as well as everyone working on Airshipworld will be happy to serve you in 2008 as your news source for the Airship Industry. The year ends but the work on Airshipworld continues and picks up speed as we are approaching the First International Airship Investors Conference at the end of May 2008. Just this week we have signed the paperwork to establish the Airshipworld Association e.V. here in Germany we should hear back from the authorities early next year. This step now allows us to proceed in organizing the Conference. Stop by in the next few days on this site to learn more about the Airshipworld Association. Also I am working on the Airshipworld Website which will have more information about the Conference and the Association. I hope to have something up before I have to get back to work in January.
A last I want to send out a very special thanks to all the subscribers of this Blog. If you subscribe by Email or to the RSS-Feed in a feed-reader, thank you for your support. I can not believe that there are more than 100 people already subscribed to our Blog. Thank you so much, you keep me going. But let us know what we can improve. I know the number of blog posts have declined throughout the last few months, this was mostly because of my new job situation. I am working hard on trying to improve it, so that I will be able to post 2-4 days a week again. And you can believe me I will find a way. But for now happy holidays to everyone many presents and some peaceful days. I am away for a few days but will be back before new years.

Ho ho ho,
Andreas G

Years End News from the Zeppelin

Before the year ends here few year ender updates from Zeppelin. The Zeppelin NT flew this year for the first time all the time until the beginning of December, letting more than 12.000 passengers experience Lake Constance out of an airship this year. This totals in more than 73.000 Passenger since August 2001. That is more than 14.6 million Euro just in ticket sales. The Zeppelin NT also received a new branding. With a 14 month contract the Deutsche Telekom signed the longest running branding contract in the companies history. The URL that can be seen on the Zeppelins envelope directs to the T-City which was a contest project by the Deutsche Telekom to find a City in Germany with innovative concepts on how to use communication and information technology in a city. The winner of this contest was Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance the home of the Zeppelin.

The bottom part of the envelope that can only be seen from directly underneath the Zeppelin is branded for the same time with the Health Insurance BKK Gildemeister Seidensticker.

Also I would like to share with you this years holiday Card from Zeppelin, which was only sent out digitally and the money saved by doing so was given to a charity.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Interview with Stephen Wood from the Lightship Group

Since I have quite a long commute to work every day, I listen to a lot of Podcasts they range from technology to music to aviation. One of these aviation Podcasts I just recently subscribed to is the Pilotcast "a Podcast for Pilots, by Pilots" it's great to get a glimpse into the general aviation world. And it was even greater when I heard that they had featured an interview with a Blimp Pilot. This Pilot is Steve Wood who was flying a Lightship Blimp during this interview which got featured all the way back in September 2005. I discovered it because I listened through all the Archived episodes to get a better understanding of the current developments in the HTA (Heavier-Than-Air) aviation industry.
So check out this 28 minute excerpt of the Pilotcast Number 11 by clicking on the play button below.

You can download the original 1:14 long episode by using this download link
If you are listening to podcasts and are interested in general aviation this podcast is a must. Go to and subscribe to their show. If you haven't downloaded a Podcast yet, maybe this could be your first one. Let us know what you think about audio content on the page, would you be interested in a Airship Podcast or is there one already out there? Let us know, send us comments via email or post them in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Blimp Pictures

I just found a nice website with lot's of Blimp pictures that I wanted to share with you. It's in their Aerospace and Aviation section they have a nice collection of Blimp pictures featuring the Goodyear Blimps and some others. Check them out here. Regarding the Goodyear Blimps check out the Exhibition that's currently running in the Zeppelin Museum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Varialift Airship - a progress update

The Varialift Airship is a new concept for an Airship with a variable lift system, developed and invented by Alan Handley. The variable lift, will make ground handling of this airship a lot easier. We first reported about Varialift back in April 2007 with the Varialift Website announcement and a look at his Varialift patent application today we get the chance to give you a little update as to what has been going on. Mr Handley was so kind and shared this press release with us.
Varialift Airships

The development of the varialift principle has taken a new step forward in recent weeks with the start of construction of two varialift units for proof of concept and test purposes.

The units would form part of a number of units running the length of the airship that will have variable lift capability plus load trimming for the aircraft.

The announcement was made at the Fourth International Symposium “Making it Happen” in Winnipeg Canada on October 31st 2007 during a presentation by Alan Handley CEO of Varialift Airships

The presentation illustrated how the units work and how by using them heavy lift up to 1000 tonnes is possible for cargo carrying over long and short haul flights.

This is the last part of a five year development program of the concept this has included not only the formulation of the aircraft and mathematical modelling but also the IP protection by international Patent Applications

The airship will be constructed entirely of aluminum and the picture below shows the very first section being manufactured.

Further information on the website
Mr Handley also shared two pictures with us showing "the first top section being tested for self support (A total of 10 will be required)." Enjoy and click on the images to get a bigger version.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

N470 - The Zeppelin over Holland - [updated]

It kind of caught me by surprise, when I was searching through you tube the other day. There were many many videos of the Zeppelin NT with a weird N470 writing on it's envelope. Like this one "Zeppelin NT07 (N470) landing at Rotterdam Airport"

But this is by far not the only video, check out the related Videos that the Video player shows after the Video is done, or take a look over at Youtube at these Videos
A little search quickly turns up the Page Zirkus Zeppelin is from what I understand an Artproject by Florentijn Hofman about the N470 Highway in the province Zuid-Holland. As far as I understand Florentijn selected 470 people who life around the N470 or where involved during the construction of the highway to fly on the Zeppelin. They should take pictures and share their stories of the experience of the flight along the N470, all this will then be published in an illustrated book. We are going to Contact Florentijn Hoffman and Zeppelin for more information about this project. For now I invite you to check out all these Flickr images taken on the Flights along the N470

From what I could read on the Zirkus Zeppelin website the Zeppelin NT was only flying for about a week in the Netherlands but all those pictures taken prove it once again. An Airship of whatever kind is a very efficient marketing instrument that reaches many thousand people in a short amount of time and seeing an airship usually leads to positive reactions by the people who see it. We will be featuring more information about the effectiveness of Airships in marketing soon. So keep an eye out and check back regularly.

[Update]We got a reply from Florentijn Hofman, we basically got it right, so our skills in deciphering foreign languages without the tiniest bit of knowledge about them aren't so bad after all. Here is a short excerpt of the Mail we got back
I wanted to show people the road and the area around the road from a perspective architects draw their plans.
With a zeppelin you bring another layer into the project, spectaculair, the right speed to read the landscape and the history around zeppelins included.
Those issues makes the choice for renting this zeppelin clear and much better than a helicopter or plane or balloon. (this last one was also no option while a wanted to bring 470 people up in the sky).
According to Florentijn the financing of the project was possible because the province which built the N470 took 1% of the cost of the highway construction to art and from that budget the NT could be rented.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Goodyear meets Zeppelin

Today I would like to talk about Jens Schenkenberger a Zeppelin and Airship enthusiast from Germany. He has a nice website called that is worth a visit, he has a wealth of information about Airships available for the interested. His website is also available in English, even though the most content is available in German. Click here for the english version of his Website. He also has put together an Exhibition about the Goodyear Blimp operations out of Akron Ohio. The exhibit can bee seen in the "Grenz-Raum" of the Zeppelin-Museum Friedrichshafen (Lake Constance in Germany) from November 16th, 2007 to January 6th, 2008. The exhibit features models, authentic airship parts, photos, magazines, merchandise, and more. Unlike many other Companies in the Airship Business Goodyear has the longest running tradition with their blimp business. Check out the articles in German and English on his Website for more information about the exhibit. So if you happen to be in Germany make a trip to Lake Constance and visit the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen. Go to their Website for more details on how to get there and when they are open.
If you want to read more about the Goodyear Blimps check out these related stories:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Total Pole Airship - in pictures and media

We first reported about the Total Pole Airship Expedition way back in April 2007. Back then details were sparse and we promised to keep an eye on the project. Well the wait is over. Here are our updates. After many months the Russian AU-30 (54 m long, 13,5 m diameter, 5,000 m3) built by RosAeroSystems has been completed. Check out this Flickr slideshow by Dominique Pipet

If you can not see the slideshow please go directly to Flickr and visit Dominique Pipet's photos of the Airship. But that's not the only bit we have for you. A few updates to the Total Pole Airship Website where totally (no pun intended) missed by our radar. So check them out, the first article from August 20th 2007 is entitled "Construction speeds up" the second one posted September 21, 2007 titled "Our airship arrives" next one from September 28, 2007 has the title "The balloon is filled" and the last one from October 16, 2007 with the title "The official christening of the Total Pole Airship at Marseille airport"
Also on a side note Jim Smith from the Airship-list pointed to this article "Monaco Prince to Go to North Pole on Russian Airship" which states that Prince Albert II may join the expedition next year. Jim Smith also found another good article here "TOTAL POLE AIRSHIP : Mesurer la banquise" (click here for the English translation). Searching through the site there was also another article with great pictures of the filling of the Airship check it out here Naissance d'un dirigeable (click here for the English version). And at the very end of that article was a link to a Video showing the filling of the airship in moving pictures. Check it out here. That's it for now, there is more material about the Total Pole Airship Project out there and we will pick up the topic again for sure as things are progressing. Make sure to check out all those links they contain many many nice pictures most of them that I haven't seen before. If you have any more websites, articles, links, videos or pictures that you would like to share, post a link in the comments or send us an email.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Strato Cruiser - the designers discover Airships

On October 8th the website dezeen a design magazine published a post called "Strato Cruiser airship concept by Tino Schaedler and Michael J Brown" featuring a futuristic design for a cruise airship. You can check out the original Pictures of the Stratocruiser if you go to Tino Schaedlerswebsite at then click on "Artwork" -> "Projects in Detail" -> "Architectural/ Exhibition Design" and there you find the link to the Stratocruiser pictures. Tino Schaedler who was born in Germany is an Art Director in the movie industry and just recently was also "artdirector for digital sets" in the Movie The Golden Compass check out the Trailer here, is it just a coincidence that this movie featured an airship? And what about Stardust there was an Airship in there too. And do you remember the Blimp a final year project by Carl Hagerling from Sweden. Read our post about his design project of a swivelling blimp-envelope being vertical when landing and horizontal in flight.
And just recently Johannes Eißing from the great RC Airship Regatta Yahoo Group pointed out a new site that features an Airship not much is known about that site at this moment but we will do our best to find out more. If you have any information for us that that you would like to share with our readers please don't hesitate to write a comment or send us an email, your feedback is always welcome and helps us to deliver more of what you want and less of what you do not want to read.
Also I would like to apologize for keeping the updates at such a low pace. There are things happening behind the scenes that I can not yet talk about but keep checking back or subscribe to the Blog and get automatic updates.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Commentary on the 17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference - 5th and last part

Today we conclude our coverage of the 17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference with the last part of the commentary. Sorry that it took so long, but my day job kept me quite busy. This last part is of course also written by our very own Charles Luffman from LTA Solutions Ltd.
Here are also the links again to the first 4 parts:But let's get to the final chapter, shall we.
Events of Thursday 20 September (3rd and final day of conference) - continued

LTA-7. This was to be the last session of the conference, from 15.30 – 18.00 and about Transport Airship Developments. Chaired by Robert Boyd, from Lockheed Martin Corporation, Palmdale, CA, USA, who I did not know. It was interesting to see the Lockheed style of business.

25) Robert’s first speaker was to be Thomas Brandt, the new CEO of ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH and Co KG, Friedrichshafen, Germany, on the Zeppelin NT as a Platform for Remote Sensing for Environmental and Industrial Applications. Thomas had been attending the conference, but it was rather unfortunate that he was called away on urgent business due the loss of the De Beers NT-07 airship at its mast in Botswana because of severe weather. No doubt this will be reported elsewhere. As a result Bernd Sträter, the previous CEO of ZLT and our conference chairman, stepped up to the podium to present the paper.

As most people know, ZLT is a leading company in the development and operation of airships and this paper reflected the high standards and professionalism of ZLT. The paper gives an overview about the Zeppelin NT airship and information about some of the projects it has been used to serve. We certainly hope that the incident in Botswana will not cause problems for ZLT or inhibit their business. Nonetheless, weather issues need to be looked at by the industry (as a whole) to see how best such losses may be prevented.

26) Presented by Ronald Hochstetler, this paper from his associate Ananthakrishna Sarma at SAIC (not there) about Optimization of Airship Routes for Weather under the circumstances was a pertinent topic to follow as Robert’s next item, since it highlights the issue. Being as light as air airships are delicate structures but, as any balloonist knows, when drifting with the wind there is calm – due to low or zero relative airspeed. Restraining or directing them against wind currents will always be a problem due to their great size. Adopting the minimum energy solution therefore, like balloonists who attempt global flights by getting into the jet stream and then letting it take them at quite high speeds across lands and oceans, is a way to deal with the issue. LTA aircraft may sail the skies using air currents to best advantage this way (as Hugo Eckner advocated and did). An algorithm for route planning was expounded, which no doubt will be an important tool in the future for operators and pilots. Airships on the ground, however, need further treatment.

27) I took some time out, so am not sure if this next paper was presented, since it was said to be withdrawn. Shame, because Grant Carichner was there (one of the panellists in the plenary session) and it would have been good to hear about the developments of the Lockhead Martin project. Hopefully we will get to see his paper Hybrid Airships: A Modern Perspective another time.

28) The next paper of Robert’s session, Effect of Wind on the Aerodynamic Drag of a High Altitude Airship was an addition to the programme given by Behnam Behesti, from the Institute of Energy Technology, Zurich, Switzerland. I returned during this paper, so cannot say very much, except (from reviewing the actual paper) it provided useful input from water tank towing tests to determine the flow over the hull, which is a scaling effect that makes such testing effective. The last paper also shows how such comparisons between water and airborne vessels are possible. Benham also undertook flow visualisation studies over the empennage, complimenting the water tank trials.

29) Speaking for himself this time, Ronald Hochstetler was Robert’s next presenter, there to tell us about an idea for the Establishment of a Transport Airship Competition. The LTA aircraft industry certainly needs a boost to help projects develop and this proposal by Ron, who knows the business well, was a very interesting suggestion that drew audience participation – who wanted to ask questions and provide further input. Ron gave an outline of typical competitions in the past from the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize, which Santos Dumont took in Paris (19 October 1901) with his airship Number 6, to modern day events, such as the recent “X-Prize” competition for the first commercial space ship. He also talked about various ways that such a competition could be held. If readers of the commentary also would like to make input we should be glad to hear what people think.

30) Always a delight to hear Richard van Treuren speak, Robert’s final presenter and the final speaker of the conference, who gave us a talk on Comparing 1928 Technology and Operation: USS Argonaut (SS-166) and Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127). Naturally this was from his research of historical aspects but where he found many parallels between submarines and airships. These parallels were well portrayed by his paper, which concentrated on the particular vessels of his subject. This also was a pleasant reflection on former times but with a lesson for engineers in the subject to use history and such parallels for new developments.

Concluding Remarks

It was a good friendly conference giving people from the LTA aircraft industry chance to network and keep up with latest developments. I certainly enjoyed the three days in Belfast, my first opportunity to visit the city and have a small chance to savour its ambiance – mainly lunchtimes and an evening walk.

It was noticeable this year that over half of the papers were by people from academic establishments, who were there showing their capabilities and readiness to serve the industry. Yes, some key industry people were there, but not in such great numbers as previous years, perhaps reflecting the lack of investment for this key sector of the aircraft industry.

It was also good that the AIAA made it possible for the LTA-TC to hold the conference in Europe (certainly making it easier for me to attend) alongside the ATIO conference people. Whilst the ATIO conference was bigger, the quality certainly was not better, as we were treated to excellent papers in the LTA conference of a high standard. The papers are all available from the AIAA, details below.

Hope to see and talk with you at the next event, wherever. For those who can’t wait, see details following.

Cheers, Charles

And this concludes our coverage, if you want to know more please don't hesitate to contact us. You can also get a PDF of the full Commentary at it also contains contact data of Charles and the AIAA and a list of all the Sessions with their AIAA Code so that you can get them from the AIAA Website.

Commentary of the AIAA’s 17th Lighter-Than-Air (LTA) Systems Technology Conference
Support independent publishing: buy this e-book on Lulu.
Tell us what you think about the PDF offering, is it something that you would pay money for or rather not? We are evaluating this new way of publishing at and are inviting everyone who is interested in publishing Papers or Books online to contact us, we can help you get going and provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Zeppelin NT in Japan

Back in June we had an article about the Zeppelin of the Nippon Airship Corporation in Japan and that it will soon be offering sightseeing flights. Well this soon is now. Currently the Zeppelin NT number 2 operates in Tokyo you can check out the completely reworked japanese Website of NAC or take a look at the autotranslated english version. Most interesting might be the tours that are offered from November 23rd to January 5th over Tokyo if you are interested in a flight check out the special Cruise website and in case you don't read Japanese the auto translated version. If we decipher the Japanese correctly the prices range from 126,000 Yen to 168,000 Yen per flight which is 757,- to 1010,- Euros. The flights range from 90 Minutes to 2 hours. If you compare these prices to those charged by the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei who charge 545,- Euros for a 90 Minute flight and 715,- Euros for the 2 hour tour the prices are higher but you always have to compare it with the local economy so you can really say it's more expensive for those who live there but if you are traveling from somewhere else in the world you might think about going to Japan if you want to budget. IF your Japanese skills are better than ours, it would be great if you could help us a bit understanding what else is said on those websites.
For the rest of us NAC also has only Englisch Website which mainly focuses on a Company presentation rather than the current operations.
I would like to thank aerocrat for his great Russian Airship blog he wrote about the current NAC operations (English translation here) and gave me a heads up. Also I want to thank our great auto translation service WorldLingo who provide us with this great service. If you have to translate something on the web check them out at Also I want encourage everyone who has not yet subscribed to the blog to do so, just use the links in the sidebar where it say "Subscribe to Airshipworld" also please leave us comments and email us. Send us your airship news stories that you have discovered.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Video footage of the Lockheed Martin / Skunkworks P-791 and the Skycat Skykitten

Thanks to our reader tryphonkorm from Greece we have some great stuff to share with you tonight. First of is a YouTube Video of the Lockheed Martin/Skunk Works P-791 this is the first video that I am aware of that made it into the public. Of course we will research the source of this video and see if we can get more information about it but it seems that by publishing and talking about it slowly more and more details surface.

In addition to this, we have to report of a live sign of the recently founded Company Hybrid Air Vehicles, the former Skycat group / ATG having the Skykitten. We also want to thank tryphonkorm for this link to a BBC Article about a passenger airship service from Cambridge to Oxford. Read the Article here "Airship may link historic cities". But if you are one of those people like me who love to see moving images this Article also features a small video report featuring footage of the Skykitten scale model of the larger Skycat. Click this link for the video page. Do you have more media, more footage or background information. Are you from Lockheed Martin or Skycat and want to share more about your projects and products then please contact us. If you have suggestions, tips, information or simply just want to share your opinion with us please leave a message in the comments or send us an email.

Friday, November 2, 2007

17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference - 4th part of commentary

Continuing our coverage of the 17th AIAA Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference we bring you the third part finishing Tuesday September 18th and going in to Wednesday September 19th. If you missed our previous posts you are invited to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before continuing on. As before this post is part of a longer Commentary written by Charles Luffman from LTA Solutions Ltd. Enjoy!
Events of Wednesday 19 September (2nd day of conference) - continued

LTA-5. The afternoon session concerning Airship Buoyancy Systems was chaired by Richard van Treuran, of the United Space Alliance, Cape Canaveral, FL, USA. Richard is a stalwart of the airship community, who has made LTA his second job, writing and publishing books and films on the topic via Atlantis Productions (, which he runs with his wife (Deborah), who was also at the event.

18) The first speaker in Richard’s session was Alexander Bormann, already discussed above. His paper on, New Insulation for Thermal Balloons and Airships, was a collaborative effort with associates from Berlin, Germany; Igualada, Spain; and Lausanne, Switzerland. He gave us important information about fabric developments that help to reduce heat losses, thereby improving performance and reducing the amount of fuel needed for sustained flight. As evident from the papers, Alexander provides technical services and is involved with leading developments in the LTA industry, particularly fabrics. No doubt much of this is from his work concerning steam filled balloons as an alternative to other gases and hot air. I hope to see more in the future.

19) Richards’s next speaker was Chris Severns, an employee of the Boeing Company, Issaquah, WA, USA, who really was there on his own behalf (with his wife) following his work as a leading engineer in the field of electrical power systems at CargoLifter in Germany – where I got to know him. CargoLifter was a phenomenon of our time that inspired many people. Sadly, we have lost this now due to prosaic bean counting by those who only understand accounts. The cost of this loss however is not just the relatively small amount of money involved (€300 million), compared with that invested in the HTA sector (many €Billions), but the enormous setback to the industry and society its ruthless abandonment caused, where funds for development are virtually non-existent now. Thanks to Chris’ perseverance, we now at least have something from the research he started in Germany, which no doubt also may be applied to other non LTA systems.

Chris’ paper about an, Airship Hybrid Power System Design Using Evolutionary Programming for Seeking Neutral Buoyancy was beyond my field of knowledge and with a fair amount of theory, but clearly was a topic for those inclined or involved in such developments in the audience.

20) The last of Richard’s speakers was again Alexander Bormann, with a paper entitled, HEIDAS UH: Flying with Super-Heated Steam. Yes, Alex is the other principal advocate of steam to Thomas Goodey (not at the conference) as a lifting gas. This was an informative paper on the subject and of importance, because steam is not often considered. Yet it provides ability to vary aerostatic lift in an affordable safe manner. More work on this subject is needed, so I hope to see more.

Evening 2. This brought us to an early end, giving one plenty of time before the evening’s Awards Banquet in the Grand Ballroom. This was a splendid occasion bringing together the several hundred delegates, partners and other visitors from the several groups holding conferences jointly. The ballroom was set up with large round tables to accommodate the many guests. It was a convivial occasion with wine and social chitchat flowing freely. However, the highlight of the evening were the awards, where George Spyrou of AMS was given recognition for his services to the airship industry and Hepburn Walker, the veteran of airships, was awarded posthumously for his life time contributions in this field. Hep’s award was received by Richard van Treuran on behalf of Hep’s family. It was very pleasing to see LTA people being given such recognition.

Events of Thursday 20 September (3rd and final day of conference)

LTA-6. The final day of the conference again was started promptly by Alexander Bormann for that morning’s session about Aerostat and Airship Structures.

21) Alex’s first speaker was Shoji Maekawa, an invited researcher at JAXA in Japan, who presented the work of his team on Tear Propagation of a High Performance Airship Envelope Material. Tear propagation of fabrics in airship envelopes is a sensitive issue, so his oral presentation was much appreciated. He showed us the bi-axial test and pressurised cylinder work undertaken together with results achieved for the Zylon material tested. This was important work for the future of LTA aircraft, to get reliable data and lightweight fabrics for envelopes and gas cells with high rip strength properties – an aspect that is worrying with some fabrics. Understanding the behaviour is a necessary aspect to developing solutions and confidence, so it was good to hear about this work.

22) Still with more to speak about, Alex’s next presenter was again Rajkumar, to tell us about his team’s work on Multidisciplinary Shape Optimization of Aerostat Envelopes. This essentially was an exercise that had been undertaken to find the best profile, balancing cost and performance, for their airship projects. In the end Raj showed us that their original simple profiling method was good enough but weight reductions were possible by tailoring – using lighter materials at the nose and stern.

23) Pramud Rawat from Columbia, MD, USA was Alex’s next speaker, who gave a presentation on Nonlinear Analyses of Aerostat Behavior. Pramud clearly had significant experience concerning the deployment of aerostats both at high and low altitude, and in different locations. His message was simple enough to understand, where he was advising analysts to do the non-linear analysis with all of the terms included instead of simplifying and linearising the formulae. This was because he had found from experience some very nasty conditions, which only the non-linear approach would predict.

This was rather important to overcome overload situations where the tether would fail and the aerostat lost. The mediating factor he explained, however, was that aerostats were cheap and it perhaps wasn’t practical (due to excessive tether weight) to cover these occasional cases, so operators should keep a couple of spares on hand to keep the operation going when aerostats are lost – usually in places where supply is difficult.

24) Yet again, but for the last time, Rajkmar returned to the podium as Alex’s last speaker to present his teams effort in India concerning Design and Fabrication of an Aerostat for Wireless Communication in Remote Areas. Aerostats, as Raj explained, were being looked at in India as a simple, cost effective way to hoist communication systems that could be rapidly set up in remote places all over India. The presentation showed how a cost effective design with locally produced fabrics was being established for the purpose.

Mid-day 3. So, with the morning’s session over but a full afternoon yet to follow, it was out into Belfast for a quick bowl of stew and a cup of tea before the final events. Then back to the Edinburgh Suite again for more.

LTA Plenary session. The first event of the afternoon (13.00 – 15.00), instead of being another session of presentations, was an opportunity for review of the Environmental Advantages of Transport Airships, with full participation from the delegates there. The event was chaired by: Gregory Gottlieb, who is an Airship Association Committee Member, and currently lives in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The review was a little like some television debates, where there is a panel responding to input from the audience as well as the panel espousing their views. Gregory’s panel comprised: Grant Carichner, Lockhead Martin Aeronautics Company, Palmdale, USA; Ronald Hochstetler, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), McLean, VA, USA; and Richard Smith, Shell Global Solutions.

After explaining how things were run, each of the panellists talked briefly about themselves and their views on the subject to get things started. Gregory then addressed the delegates in the audience again to get input and with Mike Conners and Bernd Stäter carrying microphones around for delegates to be heard. Things quickly got underway and a useful exchange ensued. Many points were made, which I believe will be useful to help establish LTA aircraft for such purposes. Hopefully somebody recorded the debate some how.
This concludes part 4 of our commentary. We will return with part 5 soon and are also looking into making the papers that where presented available to download. If you have presented one of those papers and would like to share it with the public as a PDF download or would like to share your Powerpoint presentation please contact us, so that we can make arrangements. If you know one of the presenters please help us to get as many of the presentations as a free download. The knowledge about Airships and especially the research needs to be spread throughout the world. If you know of links where one can buy the papers please forward those also to us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Voyager Airship by 21st Century Airships

21st Century Airships a Canadian Airship Development Company, is currently working on a new airship. Up until now 21st Century Airships has been famous for their spherical Airships. They also successfully licenced their technology to the US company Cyber Defense Systems. To see pictures and even a video of their original airship you can also check out a post on the Blog crashworks.
Now 21st Century Airships is working on a new Airship for tourism and sightseeing activities. On their website you can see some great pictures of the gondola which will accommodate up to 19 passengers. Of course such a new development needs a prototype. So 21st Century Airships has build a small scale 2 person prototype of the Voyager Airship which has already complete it's first test flights. Here are the recent announcement released by 21st Century Airships:
September 24, 2007
We have just completed the test flights for the scale version of the Voyager Airship. The Voyager Airship is a 19-passenger craft, purpose designed for sightseeing rides. As expected, the airship was extremely maneuverable and is able to perform VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landings). Steering and altitude controls are activated with a joystick, making the pilot's workload very light.

August 1,2007
Our latest airship is now ready to take flight. This distinctive looking airship is a two-seater, scaled-down version of our 19-passenger, sightseeing airship. It will act as a test platform for the many systems, with new and advanced standards, that we are incorporating into our airships.

Although this elongated-shaped airship has stabilizing fins, there are no moving surfaces such as rudders and elevators. Steering and altitude controls are affected by directed thrust from the engines, a system developed and patented by 21st Century Airships Inc. The main advantage of this new system is that it allows the airship to be highly manoeuverable at any speed from 0 to full. This airship has no elevator wheel or rudder pedals. Instead it is simply controlled with a joy-stick.

Test flights are scheduled to begin mid August 2007 near Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. After the initial test flights are completed, the airship will be used for demonstrations, as well as for collecting data for the ongoing Type Certification of our 19-passenger, sightseeing airship.
We quoted the two announcements here since we do not know how long they will stay up on the Website of 21st Century Airships. But make sure to check out the original website for more pictures of the prototype.
The Winnipeg Free Press article we talked about yesterday also mentions that 21st Century Airships is planning on flying the prototype to Winnipeg this coming fall. You can be sure we will be reporting about it when it happens.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lockheed announcing the P-791 offically ?

Bringing the first piece of news from the Airships to the Arctic Conference is the Winnipeg Free Press. They released an Article this Tuesday about the conference and possible announcements that might be made by Lockheed Martin about the Skunkworks P-791 project.
Like the wizards in the fictional world of the Harry Potter books who will not say the name of their nemesis out loud, company officials will not even utter the name of the project -- P-791.
But a Lockheed spokeswoman Melissa Dalton is quoted in the article saying:
the official's planned address for the conference will be about buoyant systems in general and not about the unmentionable P-791 in particular.

Read the full article on the Winnipeg Free Press Website for more details.

Part 3 of the "17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference" Commentary

Continuing our coverage of the 17th AIAA Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference we bring you the third part finishing Tuesday September 18th and going in to Wednesday September 19th. If you missed our previous posts you are invited to read
Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing on. As before this post is part of a longer Commentary written by Charles Luffman from LTA Solutions Ltd. Now enjoy reading Part 3.
Events of Tuesday 18 September (1st day of conference) - continued

LTA-3. The final (third) and longest session (with 5 speakers) from 15.30 – 18.00 was chaired by Michael Burns, also of Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., McLean, VA, USA. He also had been asked at a late stage to chair the session, due to unavailability of E Engleman Conners from the Federal Communications Commission in Washington DC, USA. Michael was another person who I didn’t previously know. It’s good to see new people spreading their wings, helping to generate interest in LTA aircraft, and that Booz Allen Hamilton is taking a leading role. His session concerned, High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Airship Technologies and Operation.

9) Michael’s first speaker, well known to everyone at that stage, was again Rajkumar Pant; clearly an industrious and knowledgeable chap with many hats, who also has further papers to be discussed. In fact, as detailed in the programme, Rajkumar was the representative of a team of people in India developing various airships – so was there as a representative of his associates (saving the expense for so many from India) to deliver the team’s effort. It was good to see the extent of the team’s efforts, showing that India is taking the initiative to become a leader in the technology. Nonetheless, this was more to do with providing transport and communication services in India, where LTA technology is seen to be an effective, environmentally friendly and relatively cheap way to do this. It was great to be able to learn more about this initiative, which I hope others will follow.

The paper presented by Rajkumar was about, Modelling and Simulation for Precision Navigation of Airborne Vehicles using Pseudolites Mounted on Stratospheric Airships. This showed that they have solved the equations of motion for a 6 degree of freedom (DOF) theoretical model and understand the control laws, so can use this now to enable autonomous control of real models in the stratosphere. I look forward to seeing their developments in this direction.

10) Patrick Hendrick from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, was Michael’s next speaker with a paper titled, Comparison of Propulsion Technologies for a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Airship. This was to be one of two related papers from Patrick, with the other at the end of Michael’s session. Just how one may power an unmanned airship reliably for long periods (say 1 month to 1 year) at stratospheric heights is a real challenge. If one uses solar power, it’s not available through the night. If one uses fuel carried on board, then this is used up over time causing lift/weight imbalance – where gas would need to be released – and conventional engines need a good intake of oxygen for combustion, which is rare in the upper atmosphere. Patrick’s paper, like a good systems analysis, looks at the issues and provides recommendations that should enable HALE airships to fulfill their power needs reliably, so is important for those developing such systems.

11) Michael Lee from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, AL, USA and working with I Steve Smith Jr, of Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX, I think were Michael Burn’s next speakers. I remember the paper about The HiSentinel Airship, because they actually did it on a low budget – producing the airship, getting it up to the stratosphere, flying around and later recovering it. This was a notable achievement, even though it was a model (with not much payload capacity) and didn’t stay up for long. Hopefully, this will enable them to develop bigger long endurance types able to carry useful payloads.

12) Masaaki Nakadate, the manager for LTA System Technology at JAXA in Tokyo, Japan, followed with his paper on the, Flight Approval of SPF-2 Low Altitude Flight Test Vehicle. With regards to the subject matter, this paper might have been better placed under Giles’ session, as it provided a good example of the issues one faces with the authorities concerning UAVs in civil airspace these days and the requirements that the Japanese Civil Airworthiness Board (JCAB) have determined. Masaaki’s presentation is therefore important to those who wish to develop unmanned airships, which also applies to HALE types where, in the stratosphere, there is confusion about the international airworthiness requirements that need to be developed.

13) Returning to the podium for his second and the last presentation of the day, Patrick’s subject, Developing a European Research Strategy in the High Altitude Aircraft and Airship Sector also reflected the need for new regulations to cover such aircraft. His paper, however, was more to do with providing a report following the several workshops and studies by the Use High Altitude Aircraft and Airships (Use HAAS) group.

Brussels was the main meeting location for this group who came from all over Europe and Patrick was one of its main organisers, who also included: Tim Tozer (not at the conference), University of York in the UK and Bernd Sträter, our conference chairman, who undertook much of the donkeywork to write the final reports. I also had contributed a little along with a host of people mainly from around Europe. The intention of this group was to arrive at a common strategy, raise awareness of the subject at government level and to try to get funding for research and development purposes in Europe. Patrick’s paper provides the background and conclusions/recommendations from the work of the Group. Let’s hope it leads to properly funded LTA aircraft developments in Europe that we can participate in as leaders in the field

Evening 1. It had been an interesting (although intense) first day, so light entertainment was needed. As part of the event coaches were provided for an evening visit to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, where food, refreshment and Irish hospitality (with music) was to be had. Unaccompanied, as I was at the event, I soon found an unused seat on the coach beside an interesting looking American lady in a similar situation, but attending the ATIO conferences, which led to good companionship at the museum and interesting conversation with others who we met there together.

This was good because many delegates there had their partners with them, so we fitted in well. Especially nice was to talk with Ron Hochstetler and his wife. Ron had been a buddy who worked on the US Navy airship project with me in 1986 and more recently was the former AIAA TC chairman – still providing sterling help. Ron had been a steady going bachelor for many years until his delightful lady embraced him. Having not seen him for some time, it was evident that his long wait for a good woman was worthwhile. Cheers for friendship and happiness in life together.

Events of Wednesday 19 September (2nd day of conference)

LTA-4. But the evening was soon over and the sessions starting promptly next morning at 09.30 again. This second day, however, was to be less demanding – with just two LTA sessions instead of three. The first session, about Unmanned Airship Design and Control, was chaired by Patrick.

14) Patrick’s first speaker was Thomas Kuhn, from the Technische Universität München, Garching, Germany, who presented his university team’s work concerning, Multidisciplinary Design Methods for the Hybrid Universal Ground Observing (HUGO) Airship. This gave a very good account of the university’s design, analysis and prototyping capability, showing a nice model lifting body arrangement they had determined – intended to be produced and flown at the university. Thomas also had been an organiser at the previous DGLR meeting, when he saved me from the wrath of the weather by taking me to my hotel during a hail storm with hail stones like bullets of 1 cm diameter. This is a design case that LTA aircraft designers should give attention to these days, because climate change is having some odd effects.

15) We were then introduced by Patrick to Ely de Paiva, who was from the Centro de Pesquisas Renato Archer, Campinas, Brazil, as the next speaker. He also was presenting on behalf of a team effort concerning, Nonlinear Control Approaches for an Autonomous Unmanned Robotic Airship. His paper was quite mathematical, showing three different approaches for solving the 6 DOF equations of motion and control law inputs. Clearly, they had this in hand and were progressing with an unmanned airship with autonomous control. Their reason for looking at so many solutions was to find a robust method that was not subject to inference, enabling a reliable system to be developed.

16) The third speaker in Patrick’s session, Chin Lin, from Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan (roc), again on behalf of his associates, provided input on a related aspect by showing us their work on, Flight Autonomous System Integration for LTA Remote Operation. However, this was more to do with the electronic components and the selection of micro chips for the computerised controls, i.e. the hardware involved.

17) Due to non-attendance of a speaker from the Italian group, the final paper of Patrick’s session on a, Mobile Ground Station for the Unmanned Elettra-Twin-Flyer Airship, was not presented. The session was therefore closed early, giving time for networking.

Mid-day 2. There was reasonably good attendance of the conference with numerous people there keeping an eye on developments and the possibilities that arise from such conferences. Delegates in the audience ranged from about 30 to 80 people. It was good to be able to talk and it was interesting to note who was there but not as a speaker or session chairman. To name a few, people such as: George Spyrou, CEO of American Management Services (AMS) in the USA, operators and developers of airships; Philip Yiin, CEO of the Airship Group in Malaysia, aspiring developers; Luke Brooke, a representative of Tensys Dynamics Ltd in the UK, a group specialising in the analysis of membrane structures (such as airship envelopes); Jean-François Rives, Director of Strato Tex, with interests in fabric structures; Erin Murrin, an assistant editor of Wiley, the publishers; and people from Queens university Belfast or other institutions in Ireland learning about LTA.

This concludes our third part. We will have at least one more if not two parts to wrap up our coverage. If you have questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Commentary on the "17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference" - part 2

Today we continue the commentary of the 17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference that we started yesterday. If you missed Part 1 just jump back to our previous post and read the Introduction. Today we continue with the first two days of the conference Monday September 17th and half of Tuesday September 18th. The whole commentary was compiled by Charles Luffman from LTA Solutions Ltd who is also part of the organizing committee of the First International Airship Investors Conference. But now enjoy part 2 of his commentary.
Events of Monday 17 September (not scheduled)

While advertised as being from Tuesday 18 September, the event actually got underway on the previous evening with registration (for those who had already arrived) and an impromptu TC group meeting at a pre-conference dinner. Many people with oceans to cross naturally arranged their travel at the weekend, so were there on Monday with time on their hands. This made the TC meeting possible although, because of the late advice, those with pre-booked flights who arrived late Monday or early Tuesday for the official start and could not easily reschedule their travel, to arrive sooner, weren’t able to attend. Consequently, there’s no commentary about the TC meeting.

Events of Tuesday 18 September (1st day of conference)

Michael Conners (of Booz Allen Hamilton Marketing, McLean, VA, USA), the LTA TC Chairman, who appears to be a relatively new person to the LTA community, got the conference underway at 09.30 Tuesday morning, 18 September (the time that I was due to deliver my paper, scheduled as the first speaker). This was the first time for me, at least, to have the opportunity of hearing him speak. He made a good start, but we were there for the conference papers, so it was also good that he kept his opening speech short. Nonetheless, there were things to explain (primarily about himself and Booz Allen, and what the conference was all about) and then the technical chairman for the conference Bernd Sträter, who is an established elder in the LTA community known widely (formerly CEO of Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH) from Germany, had to be introduced.

Bernd then came on to make his opening speech and to say how the conference would be run (primarily the programme of events – attached, see the appendix) with session chairmen for each session. So this led to the introduction of Rajkumar Pant (an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India), the first session chairman.

LTA-1. Rajkumar, who I first met in Denver 2003, then took over the podium to get the first session, concerning Airship Design and Propulsion, going. Naturally, he spoke about himself and his work in India, but quickly moved on to say there would be four speakers in the first session – starting with me. From the breakfast briefing earlier, we already had organised things, so we were prepared. Nonetheless, before proceeding, I had to be introduced and a short biography about me was given. The pattern of the conference was thus defined and I was then able to present my paper.

The various chairmen were all brief in their addresses but, inevitably, used up about 20 to 25 minutes of the session time (09.30 to 11.30 – 2 hrs between 4 people). The 30 minutes each, which we thought we were going to have, already was reduced.

1) The first paper, about my experiences in the design and development of undercarriages for LTA aircraft ensued. Lighter-than-air (LTA) Aircraft Undercarriages: The Author’s Experience. Instead of reading the paper, a power point presentation was given (the way most papers were subsequently delivered). This enabled one to speak about the different aspects while the delegates in the audience could focus on the main points and the pictures, which filled my pages. If folks would like a copy of the presentation arrangements can be made, details later.

I believe it made a good paper, covering many different types of undercarriages and the basic theory/logic necessary for their design. It had been my experience that most aircraft engineers I encountered in the LTA sector gave very little thought to the need for an undercarriage, just as most people give very little thought to the care of their feet, so there was a need to highlight the issues. One soon finds out just how important feet are when foot or leg injuries occur and it’s similar for aircraft – immobilised or worse. If attitudes and needs change then, when the LTA industry picks up, the paper may be useful.

2) Jens Ottmann, a student from the Hochschule Bremen (University of Applied Sciences), Germany, quickly followed with his paper about Measurements of Drag/Propulsion Interaction Effects on a Spherical Airship Model. He also was nervous and had been practicing prior to the event to get his English right – his English is sehr gut! I met Jens and his co-authors (Jürgen Bock and Uwe Apel) last at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DGLR – German Organisation for Air and Space Vehicles) workshop in Munich (June 2007). Thoroughly nice people.

Jürgen, now retired, I believe was first known in the LTA sector for his work on the Aereon deltoid lifting body types in the late 1960’s early 70’s (way before my time) and is co-author of the excellent book “Leichter Als Luft, Transport- und Trägersysteme”, ISBN 3-86180-139-6, first published in 2003 by Frankenschwelle KG. He also was a delegate at the conference and it was rather nice to see and talk with him.

Uwe (not at the conference) is a Professor at the Hochschule Bremen (head of research I think), who took over as chairman of the DGLR LTA Committee (S2.3) from Thorsten Lutz – announced at the DGLR workshop. The DGLR in Germany is a similar organisation to the AIAA in the USA. It was good to see that the Hochschule Bremen is active in LTA research of this kind and I look forward to hearing more.

Jens’ paper was well formulated and of importance to the LTA aircraft industry, since it looks at a system that should be adopted for heavy lift purposes in the future. Just a balloon some might say. Nonetheless, it is simple cheap concepts like this, rather than the complex hybrid types (needing considerable sums to develop) that may soon enable heavy lift operations that one can only dream about at the moment. Jens’ paper showed that large spherical balloons could have reduced drag and stabile flight at higher speeds through careful positioning of the thrust units. This work is mirrored at full scale by the spherical motorised balloon systems of 21st Century Airships developed by the Swede, Hokan Colting in Canada, showing their capability at full size.

3) Alexander Hirner (the next speaker), a young research engineer from the Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics (IAG) University of Stuttgart in Germany, promptly followed. His paper on the Improvement of Propulsive Efficiency by a Dedicated Stern Thruster Design, also was an important topic for the LTA industry, since it dispels myths about the benefits, which (whilst small) were shown in his paper to be real, if an airship uses a designed for the purpose thrust unit at the stern. Alexander works with Thorsten Lutz (who didn’t attend the conference) at the IAG, where research in LTA aircraft ensues. Bernd Kröplin, Professor of the Institute of Statics and Dynamics (ISD) at the same university, also is active to advance LTA technology, leading several projects (most notably in the past, Lotte – a solar powered unmanned RC airship with a stern thruster). It was a pleasure to see Alexander’s work being advanced.

4) The last paper of Rajkumar’s session was presented by Silvain Michel of Empa, Duebendorf, Switzerland. This was entitled, Feasability Studies for a Bionic Blimp with a Fish-Like Propulsion System and undertaken in collaboration with Alexander Bormann of Aeroix, Kleinmachnow, Germany; M. Bernasconi, also at Empa; plus M. Zobel and E. Fink, Technical University, Berlin, Germany. I hadn’t met Silvain before but was aware of him and his work. I was pleased to see an articulate advocate with technical know how promoting this. Whilst perhaps not matching the LTA aircraft industry’s capability at the moment, which suffers through extremely poor funding and recognition, this was very interesting research work that shows how things may be developed. This is very important in a world that now recognises the effects of carbon emissions and the need for alternative ways that don’t degrade our environment.

Some of Silvain’s collaborators also were known to me, as I live near Berlin and have had the privilege to meet them in the Technical University (TU) there and to see their work. Alexander presented some of this in later sessions and it is interesting to see how these developments are also progressing. More later!

Mid-day 1. With the first session over at 11.30 punctually there was time to mingle and have lunch before engaging the second session at 13.00. Giles Camplin, my good friend and mentor, the next session chairman (put in at a late stage due to the withdrawal of A Elkins - unknown in the LTA industry to me, but allied to the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, Dahlgren, VA, USA) was down in reception having just arrived with his wife Christine (both active LTA people). This was perfect timing, giving Christine and I time to scoff while Giles was off preparing for the next session. Time, however, marches on, so it was soon back to the 12th floor with the curtains closed and that after lunch soporific feeling after good food and drink.

Giles deserves a word or two here because, although about the age of 3 score years now, he recently finished his PhD thesis and it was accepted, so he is now a Dr of the LTA business. His PhD subject was “Rediscovering the Arcane Science of Ground Handling Large Airships”, which took several years to finally produce with much sifting through archives and critical revue to provide a succinct account. Well done Giles! No doubt his thesis should be the foundation for anyone involved in new large airship developments, to save reinventing what has been done successfully before.

LTA 2. Giles’ session was about Low Altitude Unmanned Airships, a subject that interests many people these days, since they are perceived as a low cost long endurance way to conduct Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations. The problem here however is that they are restricted under civil regulations because of the danger UAVs pose to manned aircraft in the same airspace and to the public at large if things go wrong. On the other hand, military operators care less about such things and do not operate under such exacting requirements in a war zone. Even so, it’s not easy for the military to operate freely outside these zones, when they must comply with normal civil requirements. This therefore is an emerging business that people are trying to develop needing clear regulations to enable progress. The papers of this session were, no doubt, to look at how things are developing.

5) The session opened with a presentation by Rajkumar Pant titled, Design Fabrication and Operation of Low Cost Remotely Controlled Airships. This paper had been brought forward/swapped with a later paper to avoid double booking, where Rajkumar was scheduled to speak on another subject in the ATIO conference at the later time. It appears that the restrictions in flying such types are not as exacting in India (where this work ensues) as Europe or the USA. However, the work also appears to be more for test and development purposes, where flights were conducted safely away from populated areas and away from other aircraft. The paper shows the developments they are making, proving that these types can be easily produced and operated in a cost efficient way.

6) Giles next presenter, Masahiko Onda from Japan, who was scheduled to present a paper titled, Infrastructure Inspection LTA Robot with Cycloidal Propellers, regrettably didn’t attend. This was a shame, as he is a regular attendee at LTA conferences around the world, speaks well and has contributed significantly to LTA development. Also, Cycloidal Propellers, used by some boats (such as tugs), are an interesting concept for LTA aircraft because they should enable rapid thrust vectoring in any radial direction (360°) from a central axis under full power. Their development is therefore very important for the success of the LTA aircraft industry to improve control. Hopefully we will hear more from him on this work in the near future.

7) Rescheduled to the later time, Kimito Tanaka from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tokyo, who is a Senior Researcher in the associated Institute of Space Technology and Aeronautics, was the next speaker. His paper was entitled, Studies and Applications for LTA. Kimito gave us a lengthy paper, starting with background history about LTA developments in early times leading to modern day applications. He showed us many aspects of the developments now being undertaken. In particular, he showed us the material tests that have been conducted on several high strength materials: Kevlar, Vectran and Zylon. He also provided examples on the use of airships at high altitude and for carrying out sensitive gravity surveys. In addition, he showed us examples of aerodynamic analysis, modelling and water canal tests undertaken by JAXA. In conclusion, one could say that JAXA have the capability to handle many aspects and to do research necessary for a variety of LTA applications.

8) Whilst Giles had another final speaker scheduled for his session (from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy), regrettably there was nobody at the conference from that group. Their paper, titled, Fuel Cell Electric Power Generation System of an Unmanned Airship, is another important subject about the development of environmentally friendly power systems, which airships may employ most usefully to provide long duration power needs. Hopefully we will hear more about this in the near term. The session was therefore closed, giving us time for a good chin wag before the final session that day.

We hope you enjoyed our second part of our conference coverage. With this commentary we want to make the current research in Lighter Than Air Technology more visible to the public. If you got interested into one of the Papers mentioned above, or if you wrote one of the papers, contact us and we will go into more detail about the projects and research. If you happen to attend a Conference about Airships and Lighter than Air and would like to write a commentary about it, please contact us, since we can not be at every conference we need you as our correspondents. The next conference on the map is the Airships to the Arctic Conference starting this Monday in Winnipeg Canada.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Commentary on the "17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference" - part 1

Just a little over a month ago the "17th Lighter-Than-Air Systems Technology Conference" was held in Belfast by the AIAA our very own Charles Luffman from LTA Solutions Ltd was there and held the opening Session called "Lighter-than-air (LTA) Aircraft Undercarriages: The Author’s Experience." He took the time to attend all sessions and provides us with a detailed coverage and commentary about each session. In the coming days we will feature his paper. Since it is quite long we decided to break it down into multiple parts, to not overwhelm you by posting 14 pages at once. The full paper will be available as a download after we have posted all parts.
The first part today features the introduction and conference details, following will be the coverage for the sessions.
Conference Details

The LTA Technical Committee (TC) of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) held their 17th conference again with the Aviation Technology, Integration and Operations (ATIO) division’s conference, as a combined event from 18 to 20 September 2007, but in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, at the Hastings Europa Hotel – a 12 storey building, said to be the most bombed hotel in Europe, at the city’s centre. Times have certainly changed in Belfast, which was found to be a delightful location, inhabited by warm friendly people who made one feel welcome without reservation.

Ireland was a good venue for the event, enabling international visitors from around the world to attend. Indeed, there was good attendance by people who had travelled afar, including: many European countries, Japan, India, Taiwan, Brazil, Columbia, the UAE and, of course, the USA. It was rather nice to be together in a common purpose, graciously arranged out of the USA, benefiting us all. Especially nice was to see so many Americans with partners who might otherwise never have ventured out of homeland territory. There also was an “Accompanying Persons Program”, which must be American for “Partners Programme”.

The event was supported by several groups, notably: the Centre of Excellence for Integrated Aircraft Technology (CEIAT), who also held their 2nd International Conference on Innovation and Integration in Aerospace Sciences with the AIAA, making an overall magnificent occasion with many hundreds of people; Invest Northern Ireland, who treated us on the first evening to a well organised buffet at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – with coaches provided for the about 20 minutes journey; Bombardier, allied with Short Brothers in Belfast, who also hosted the Awards Banquet on the second evening in the Grand Ballroom, which certainly was a grand occasion; Queen’s University Belfast, who also provided breakfast for speakers at their briefing session on the 2nd morning; and Emerald Engineering. In addition there was an extended Education Outreach session organised by W5, to bring together local students and aerospace professionals; and the AIAA conferences were extended by a following event to hold the 2nd Technologies for Energy Optimised Aircraft Equipment Systems (TEOS) Forum, held at the hotel on 21 September.

Whilst the hotel was large (needed for the joint conferences) it was filled to capacity, with no rooms vacant. Many delegates therefore had to find accommodation in other nearby hotels. This wasn’t a problem in Belfast and, while the AIAA had negotiated a reduced rate at the Europa, guests at other hotels perhaps were able to strike a lower priced deal. Being at the Europa, however, certainly put one in the scene.

Integration of the various aircraft disciplines to enable cross fertilisation has been one of the AIAA’s themes, which worked very well at the 2003 conference in Denver, Colorado (my last AIAA conference attendance), when the LTA and Balloon TC’s got together, and with other aircraft disciplines. The LTA conference on this occasion, however, was not so well integrated because related groups like the Balloon TC weren’t there and the LTA conference, held on the 12th floor in the Edinburgh Suite, was separated from the others, who convened on the 1st floor in the Grand Suites. Integration was possible though, mainly during break periods (between sessions) and the evening events, when I met with some interesting people – party on! The great things about the Edinburgh Suite though, were its tranquil atmosphere, lounge corridor wing (to sit restfully or meet with others) and panoramic views over Belfast.
Come back tomorrow to read more about day one of the event. Also check out the Website of LTA Solutions, to learn more about what Charles has to offer. We would also invite everyone to send us your comments, if you attended the conference give us your views and opinions. Do you agree or disagree with something said, please let us know. Also if you have not yet subscribed to the Blog please do so either by using a feed reader and subscribing to our RSS feed or subscribe by Email. In our process of organizing the First International Airship Investors Conference 2008 at the ILA in Berlin we are also still looking for your support. Please contact us if you want to contribute to the conference by donating or sponsoring or if you want to hold a session as a speaker or just simply want to attend. We will start taking early bird pre-registrations for the conference as of November 2007.