you take as a model the old airships as constructed at the beginning of
this century, then you will see that these ships, which were about 250
meters long, could only carry a maximum of about 60 tonnes of freight.
The reason for this is to be found in their high structural weight (aluminum
- structure in the envelope, Helium - gas-bags etc). About three of these
huge ships would be needed to carry a load of 160 tonnes.
most compact alternative for lifting a load using helium is a balloon.
Steering a balloon from one location to another, however, takes a great
deal of trouble and energy.
Non-rigid or pressure Airship
a Non-rigid airships (Blimps) are most common. They are large gas balloons.
The shape is given by their internal pressure. Solid parts are the passenger
gondola and the tail fins
(e.g. Goodyear blimp)
b Hot Air Airships (Thermal Airships), offer a compromise between the ease
of use as hot air balloons
and the maneuvrability of an airships.
They usually comprise a rigid lower keel construction and a pressurized
The rigid keel can be attached directly to the envelope or hung underneath.
Rigid airships have an internal frame (Zeppelins). The rigid aluminum structure
forms the airship.
Rigid airships are only efficient when longer than 120m because a good
weight to volume ratio is (or was)
only achievable for large airships.
Info via CargoLifter
first generation of CargoLifters (the CL160) are planned to carry payloads
of up to 160 tonnes at a speed of 80 to 100 km/h and a maximum height of
2000 meters non-stop over several thousand kilometers.
is needed therefore is a structurally light and aerodynamic airship. All
these characteristics are combined in a semi-rigid airship.
large weight of the payload (160 tonnes), crane equipment, ballast tanks
etc. must be transferred to the envelope. In the case of the CargoLifter
CL 160 this is done by means of the so-called keel, a fixed structure mounted
beneath the envelope, which also houses everything else needed, such as
the flight deck, crew's quarters, all systems etc. This keel makes
the CargoLifter semi-rigid.
modern semi-rigid airship consists of an aerodynamically shaped envelope
- which, like a balloon,
kept "rigid" (see above) by the pressure of the gas (not an Aluminum structure)
- and a gondola for the pilot, passengers, engines and systems, which is
satisfy requirements involving all factors necessary for trouble-free operation,
CargoLifter will be filled with 550,000 m³ of non-flammable Helium.
Its length will be 260 meters and its maximum diameter not less than 65
meters. This is somewhat longer and wider than the Hindenburg.
has shown that an airship of this size can be steered most easily by using
cross-shaped tail unit. Maneuvering engines will be used to help steer
at low speeds.
in technical detail:
Lighter-than-Air, semi-rigid keel airship
550.000 m³, lifting gas: Helium (non-flammable)
up to 160 tons
payload size: 50 metres x 8 metres x 8 metres
80 to 125 kph
altitude: up to 2000 metres
up to 10.000 kilometres
manufacturing: starting in 2004 / 2005
to general information on Airships:
into Airship-principles (Germany)
Information Site (Germany)
Airship Image Library (UK)
Airship Resources (airships,
Airship Heritage Trust (UK)
an Introduction (US)
to Airship manufacturers:
CargoLifter - site & cam
Global Skyship & Airship
Operations' Blimp Site
Rigid® Airship Design: Home Page
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen
lezing "Renaissance van het Luchtschip: CargoLifter" werd georganiseerd
door het Genootschap Lucht- en Ruimtevaart (KVIV) op dinsdag 27 maart 2001.