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; desirable for numerous applications that need aircraft heading, attitude and geostationary position to be held.
Dirigible LTA-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 develop aerodynamic lift (like newly proposed hybrid airships) and its upper surface, which is large, is ideal for solar power technology.
Other major advantages for airships 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
- Ability to be operated either as a simple balloon or airship at any stage from launch to capture
- Ease of launch and capture directly 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
For background and further information about lenticular airships, see the paper An Exposition about previous types (available from contact).
New airships (StratRaft, AeroRaft and further Derived types) with a lenticular (L form) 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) will be automated; but where free balloon flight may be used routinely at any stage.