Illustrated above, the LS-L50 was conceived as a dirigible Luffship to develop for useful ad-hoc aerial crane lift and transport purposes with up to 5 tonne (5000 kg) under-slung payloads in a similar way to helicopters (but with much longer endurance) within the scope of existing airship Commuter category certification rules – helping to minimise development costs.
At ground level, the Ø50 m variable geometry lenticular aerostat is similar in elevation (viewed from the side) to an early SKS500 airship’s profile but, when moored, only occupies 25% of the ground area needed (due to fixation). In addition, it has a max geometric volume of 20,400 cu m compared with 5,130 cu m for the SKS500, so develops about 4 times the buoyancy, which is one of the reasons it will lift so much more.
Payload and Pod
The payload and Luffship’s pod (the main module for crew, systems and equipment) are suspended from the aerostat by an external method that spreads load more evenly and simply than is possible for classic UD airships with a close coupled gondola, enabling operations without danger of breaking the aerostat’s back. This was a problem to solve for the US Navy’s YEZ-2A airship design, which our founder had to overcome.
The LS-L50 arrangement was configured with 8 cycloidal propellers, 4 around the aerostat and 4 around the pod, all able to direct thrust in a horizontal or vertical direction up or down – so designed to overcome significant differences between airborne weight and buoyancy, and to control flight.
This is notional until test flights at full scale are undertaken to properly assess configuration matters and operating needs for the type. The pod also has underfloor ballast tanks sufficient for load exchange.
In addition, freight may be carried in a similar way using a lightweight container (as shown on the right-hand side of the enlarged pod view) for the purpose, picked up or set down wherever desired. The benefits are endurance, which helicopters can’t attain, plus design scale-ability to lift considerably more (factors > 10) not possible for helicopters.
Costs and time to develop the design should be less than an equivalent helicopter. For further information, see its leaflet.
Statement Concerning Development
This Luffship currently isn’t scheduled for development as it needs a number of key technology and ground infrastructure aspects to be worked out / set in place first with people (our own team, pilots, ground crew, operators) trained and ready for duties to fulfil. This isn’t to say it’s impossible or can’t be considered yet, as it’s clear that airships in this category have been successfully developed and entered service from scratch before. However, where are they now? Show us the type certificate for an LTA aircraft with a CofA currently in service and able to lift / transport 5 tonne or greater payloads! Apart from pipe dreams, we are confident that there aren’t any.
Sure, there are helicopters that can fulfil this need at the moment, so there’s a way for people to fulfil their relatively low-weight aerial crane needs; but at what cost (not just money) and how will they be developed for say ten times (10 x) that amount, which Luffships can be. The fact that there aren’t any LTA aircraft able for such duties while there are people paying for gas guzzling limited range/endurance/payload helicopter aerial crane services is evidence of market need for better, and where aerial cranes for somewhat heavier payloads (say for the wind turbine industry) are left wanting.
We are interested to hear from people with real needs for serious aerial cranes to register their interest and begin the dialogue to see how our strategy for such LTA aircraft may be fulfilled in quicker ways. While saying this, we are mindful that people with considerable power and huge amounts of money so far have wasted their time with serious losses. We think they will continue in this way if the pattern isn’t broken. We therefore say that it’s time for a new way to go, which Luffships represent. After all, our founder is one of the only people in the world to successfully lead the technical effort for an LTA aircraft that did vertically lift and was used over a 2 km course to carry a tank weighing c50 tonne. By comparison, 5 tonne is just a walk in the park. However, we don’t have the necessary support yet for this project – let alone anything more. Please go to contact to register interest.