About four years ago +Julie Magnone and I were meeting with one of our energy logistics clients. We had been engaged for our oversize logistics expertise to collaborate with their engineers in designing modules of their gas production plant. The goal being to optimise the design for operational efficiency, cost effective construction and transport.
From a pure construction and operational integrity standpoint the engineers were wanting to build modules as large as possible. So large that it made the land transport task impossible. We could easily transport the module sizes they wanted from overseas to the Port of Brisbane but getting them to site in central Queensland at that size was impossible due to numerous overhead bridges, power lines, railway lines, narrow roads etc en-route.
I remember clearly one of the engineers refusing to accept it was impossible and seriously demanding that we find airships that could move the cargo to site from the Port of Brisbane. Julie and I left the meeting thinking that he was slightly mad but nonetheless we did some research anyway and at that time there wasn't any airship flying capable of lifting more than a few tonnes at the most.
Well...not anymore thanks to Lockheed Martin.
A prototype, like the one pictured, is operational. It has a 7X improved cargo payload compared to what we found in earlier generation airships of 21000kg. The cargo bay is 18m long x 3m wide x 3m high and able to accommodate standard shipping containers and various other types of loads.
These airships can travel at a speed of 60 knots or 111km/h and have a range of about 2500km. Due to a special air cushion landing system, much like a hovercraft concept, they can land on water as well.
For transport into remote areas these airships are far superior than helicopters in nearly every respect. They are quieter and more fuel efficient as well!
While the current prototype still could not solve the transport task our client set for us it is fair to say it probably won't be too long before cargo bays and payloads starting increasing making Airship cargo transport a commercial reality.
Depth Airships here we come!
All for now,