The lenticular or discus form (a squashed instead of elongated sphere), often equated with futuristic ‘flying saucers’, is an alternative relatively low aerodynamic drag way for aerostats to be shaped that retains omni-directional (O-D) characteristics. This is desirable for numerous applications needing aircraft heading, attitude and geostationary position to be held.
Dirigible buoyant aircraft with a lenticular aerostat thus more easily may be configured as geostationary platforms, aerial-cranes, patrollers, cruisers and transport types in an efficient/economic way to perform duties similar to helicopters, but with long endurance (perhaps months) underway and with outsized heavy payload capability that people only dream about at the moment (perhaps 1000 tonne payloads in the future).
Lenticular Aerostat Capabilities
The lenticular form also has good capability to gain aerodynamic lift (like newly proposed semi-buoyant aircraft) and its upper surface, which is large, is ideal for solar power technology.
Other major advantages for buoyant aircraft designed with a lenticular aerostat (depending on configuration) are:
- Ability to be fixed when moored – instead of swinging around a mast
- Ease of mooring and cloaking at low level for storm or other adverse weather protection
- Ability to inflate/assemble and be maintained at open air sites without a hangar or a mast
- Ability to be operated either as a simple balloon or dirigible at any time (launch to capture)
- Ability to be operated as a tethered aerostat while designed as a dirigible launched, captured and moored using the same ground arrangements
- Ease of launch and capture vertically from small sites that may be anywhere (like heliports)
- Vertical axis symmetry of form, reducing the number of necessary parts and the number of different parts that must be designed, made, proven and paid for, so relatively low cost
- A more efficient LTA-gas container form of smaller size than traditional ellipsoid shapes.
- Ability to be a floating roof for shelter
For background and further information about lenticular airships, see the paper, “An Exposition about previous types” (available from contact). Luffships’ dirigibles (StratRaft, AeroRaft and further Derived types) with a lenticular aerostat utilise low suspended weight (like free balloons) to provide strong pendulum stability that counteracts aerodynamic instability instead of fins at a rear position. Control of both behaviour and movement through the air then is with thrust, which (with today’s technology) is automated; but where free balloon flight may be used routinely at any stage