This is a general term for the aviation industry sector involved, covering types using an aerostat for static as well as dynamic lift and, depending on type, thrust for controlled flight with minimum power meeting ‘Net Zero’ and sustainability requirements. They include:
- Balloons – bulbous aerostats with a lower payload or passenger unit
- Tethered or captured aerostats – barrage balloons, joy ride systems, floating screens, elevators, high altitude platforms and so forth
- Airships – dirigible buoyant aircraft (rigid, semi-rigid and non-rigid) able to float in the air with an aerodynamically shaped aerostat
- Semi-buoyant aircraft – potentially with wings, blown surfaces and/or an aerostat specially shaped as an aerodyne for significant aerodynamic lift with low drag
LSL has designs for each type, functioning in either unidirectional (UD) or omni-directional (O-D) ways. Our UD types generally need masts and hangar facilities common with traditional airships, where we have solutions that minimise ground needs. However, our O-D types all use common ground infrastructure methods for mooring, handling, protection and so forth enabling inflation, assembly & operation from small outdoor sites in standardised ways without masts, hangars or cross-field movement, located practically anywhere.
For clarification of terminology, see our glossary of LTA technology and buoyant aircraft terms.
LSL has access to an extensive library of LTA technology and buoyant aircraft books/documents. It also has a wide network of helpful experienced associates from the industry who our team people have worked with on projects such as the one pictured here.
LSL’s buoyant aircraft are a new opportunity with potential to use in numerous ways for benefit, including: tourism, commuter operations, heavy airlift (for transport, construction, lift & movement purposes), surveillance, advertising, scientific research, broadcasting, exploration, search and rescue, relay (telemetry), forestry, geological survey, agricultural survey, atmospheric study, patrol, and many other purposes.
While airships are grossly underused today (see Background) LSL addresses the issues for new better reliable ways, enabling things to be done that people only dream about at the moment.
Types for applications such as aerial cranes to lift and place loads of say up to 1000 tonne or geostationary long endurance platforms remaining for months on station (needed by the telecommunications industry) are possible. Aerial cruisers providing pleasure flights also are possible and would be a great pull for the tourist industry.
As numerous aircraft show, nonbuoyant types have mainly reached their limits, are noisy, energy intensive and consume huge quantities of fuel polluting the atmosphere, which can’t go on indefinitely. On the other hand, airships have not really been exploited very much, despite operating in nicer ways. The world needs their capability and those who work to realise them can benefit.
Balloons (basic buoyant types) were the first aircraft to carry people and still do in great numbers. That’s real success to leverage! Let’s not overlook these roots when leaping to higher goals. Instead, let’s grow from them in sustainable ways.
Luffships’ Buoyant Aircraft Designs
- Unidirectional (UD) airships with a traditional body of revolution aerostat
- UD Semi-buoyant airships with widened/winged or slender fish aerostat forms
- Omni-directional (O-D) Dirigible types with spherical, lenticular or natural aerostat forms
- O-D Captured or Tethered aerostats.
- Ground infrastructure – fabric structures, mooring/handling facilities, protection facilities
Concept drawings, specifications and associated supporting documents are available for each type.
For more information about Luffships’ designs, click on the following links:
Note: Information about some projects is withheld for the time being to focus on O-D types.
If more information about any of the different types is desired, it’s available on request.
Airships are propeller driven motor powered dirigible (so steerable/controllable) balloons! For comparison of their different aerostat forms: Classic (C), Lenticular (L) and Spherical (S), see the illustration right – drawn to scale with equal volumes.
The C & L forms have an aspect, slenderness or fineness ratio = 4 (= length/diameter for C types, but = diameter/height for L types). This ratio also is known as the prismatic coefficient (a block ratio).
However, when considering aerodynamic drag, overall size has an effect; where the C form is somewhat bigger than the others, because it volumetrically is a less efficient LTA gas container – so has greater wetted surface area. This should not be overlooked!
Also, when aerodynamic lift is desired:
- the S form is useless as well as having high drag,
- the C form is OK but limited and
- the L form is best, also from smaller size – being a more efficient LTA gas container.