Compared with the LS-L50, this Luffship is a similar dirigible type for ad-hoc aerial crane and transport operations, but at double the linear size (Ø100 m), for up to 10 times its payload capacity (i.e. 50 tonne), so is a far more serious proposition. It’s possible from a combination of scaling aspects, configuration and improved efficiency at the greater size.
Even so, it would be a development that must satisfy higher Transport Category certification standards for large airships before entering service – involving significantly more work, time and thus cost. It therefore needs the LS-L50 to be developed first in order to prepare the development plus operating teams (increasing capability) and the international infrastructure needed for service entry; necessary to mitigate risk, avoid wasting time and to minimise cost.
The certification standards are equivalent to those for large HTA aircraft, but probably have yet to be agreed and passed into international law for large airships – as it appears they only exist today in draft form (i.e. the Transport Airship Requirements – TAR). The LS-L100’s development thus not only needs an experienced and knowledgeable engineering/design team in a fully established aircraft approved organisation with operational facilities capable of undertaking the test programme (similar to that of CargoLifter – necessary to complete the development and support subsequent service), but also needs the political, business and infrastructure issues to be settled.
With Ø100 m it appears to be smaller than the Blue Devil II airship (112.8 m long and of 42,475 cu m capacity, actually built 2012 in the USA by MAV6, a small Mississippi defense company, but never flew). However, due to better volumetric efficiency, the LS-L100 has a capacity of 186,210 cu m; so will lift significantly more.
It thus is quite a big project, but doable – proven by:
- the CL75 AirCrane, which demonstrated carriage of a c50 tonne payload, so possible with an LTA aircraft and
- the Blue Devil II, showing that a new organisation with experienced airship people can deal with complex systems for power and flight control, etc, as well as production of an LTA aircraft that big.
Even so, it involves parallel development of new cycloidal propellers, needing attention to support the objective. This currently is just a low level pursuit for the LS-L20. Otherwise and when agreed, costs/time to develop the design to service entry should be less than an equivalent transport aeroplane (not guaranteed) but needs backers who understand aircraft development issues.
For further information, see its leaflet.
We believe that a dirigible LTA aircraft with the capability for aerial crane and transport duties similar to that intended for the LS-L100 design will not successfully enter regular service for at least 10 years or more (perhaps 20 years), needing any design to gain a type certificate from the airworthiness authorities and the aircraft to be granted a CofA before it will be permitted. One may say this because HTA aircraft with a similar payload capacity don’t just happen in a shorter period; where such aircraft developers already have a long track record of previous smaller types that entered service to step up from, which LTA aircraft developers don’t really have yet – evidenced by the number of airships in service today (very few and none with 50 tonne payload capability) unless massively and consistently funded. Besides, where’s the international infrastructure (like airports) and so forth for them to enter service?
We are well aware that Luffship proposals are not the only way for such LTA aircraft; where hybrid airships perhaps still are in vogue at the moment – we wish them success but think they will soon fail to meet expectations. Other types with multi-rotor arrangements also were mooted (tried without success before). Huge UD airship designs costing several $100 millions at the turn of the century also were attempted without success and later attempts (like the Blue Devil II) came to nought as well. We therefore think that a new way to proceed is necessary, which is what Luffships offer; where our plan is to develop from the ground up (instead of top down) in manageable stages and with a basic concept that steps up from simple balloons without loosing omni-directional (O-D) characteristics instead of taking on the complication introduced over 100 years ago when unidirectional (UD) types were introduced instead. We also think that people will be surprised at the way this approach can be quicker plus better able, leading to the LS-L100 entering service before other proposals are permitted to do so.
We therefore are interested to talk with people who need serious aerial crane / transport services for rather heavy and outsized loads about ways to fulfil their needs in an acceptable way. We also are interested to talk with established aircraft developers who would consider working with us under an agreed plan for the purpose. For both parties, please register interest via contact.
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