Sailing in the Sky?
What a strange decade this has turned out to be. What next, we're gonna see airships in the sky again???
84 years ago, this happened.
For those unfamiliar, this picture visualises the horror of the Hindeburg Disaster of 1937. The passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and burned to ashes while landing in New Jersey, which is in the United States, which is in North America. Despite the pre-war time period, actual footage circulates the internet even today, showing the speed in which the unstoppable tragedy unfolded and occured fully in minutes.
Footage as sourced by British Pathé:
This event arguably shaped a great portion of 20th century aviation. Not too far from a century later, the world is becoming more willing to re-embrace the presence of mainstream airship services.
Enter HAV, or Hybrid Air Vehicles for long. Yes, this is the HAV company that has indepedent analysis suggesting the course of the next 20 years could see an airship market boom to an international value of over 50 billion US dollars! Ambitious you say? My thought exactly. So what place would an airship have in such a modern developed aviation industry.
Well, right now the masses can fly (believe it or not) on a vehicle called an airplane (or aErOpLaNe if you are a strange member of the global community).
Now this plane business is very impressive, and offers liiiiiiterally the entire world super-quick transportation across the 510.1 million km² of the Earth's surface. But then comes the climate of which commerical flight plays a decent role in obliterating. Now I'm no environmentalist, but planes do this thing called pollution. And to be frank pollution is bad in all aspects. For all its emissions, is a 40 minute trip from Dublin to London really worth getting one of these fired up? That is the supposed point of the airship in the 21st century according to HAV. Airplanes are simply to vital to international travel to be replaced currently, but the airship could definetely intervene in short, inter-city trips.
So to summarise, the point of the airship today will be....
...to do the light weight stuff. Like I mentioned, inner-city trips. The Irish Times published an article in relation to airship travel discussing proposed routes such as Belfast to Liverpool for example (although I don't which one would be better to be leaving or arriving into). Also included in the European regions would be the likes of Barcelona to the Balearic Islands, or Oslo to Stockholm perhaps. The whole point is that big industrial airlines are ideal if you want to get to Tokyo from, I don't know, Birmingham. But then what about if you were only heading to Glasgow from the same destination. The footprint is really quite extortionate for cities so close together. Especially so when you compare environmental effects of the newly developed blimps. Co2 footprint per passenger on HAV airships would be on average 4.5kg, compared to roughly 53kg on a jet airline. So the proposal is short term, gentle journies on a great big airship. Sounds exciting.
Ah, yes. Some stats on the listed routes. 5.25 hours for the Belfast to Liverpool, 6 and a half for Stockholm to Oslo. Oh and a non-European one here, Seattle to Vancouver could be done in 4. So of course, it is much, much slower. But unless you are a busy business man or lady, what's the issue? Airship travel will be perfect for people who don't have to be in a meeting with their compostable coffee cups by 6 o'clock on the dot. Besiiiides the world moves too quickly anyway, although if you're taking the flight from Belfast I understand if you'd fancy getting away in a hurry.
As with everything in life, take the bad with the good. We see similar environmental conundrums in the automotive industry back on the ground, facing the difficult switch to electricity while other alternatives are under development. And if you think EVs are ugly, wait til' you see the state of what's hoping to become a mainstream form of transport for short trip travel in the sky.
That's right folks, take to the skies in a giant inflatable arse.
Still though, M A N Y great things are promised of your experience in these things. See it for yourself.
Keep in mind this isn't some project on the cards exclusively for the elites, this is a global development being worked on for use all over the world! These shots are of the Airlander 10, HAV's tested airship which is due to be sold in its masses to nations for running localised routes. This isn't on the cards for the future, it's already miles 'off the ground'.
So, all things considered, it seems plausible enough. Supposedly this would be the literal dynamite needed to get hydrogen used in full aswell, so who knows what effects this will have on other transport industries.
Thanks for reading, this sure was a fun one for me. Tell what you think below? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?