Charles Luffman has acquired the assets and fully taken over management of SkyLifter Ltd as the new director/owner of the business (Company No. 07140078 – Incorporated 29 January 2010), renaming it Luffships Limited (completed 9 May 2018) in a recent bid to fulfil airship development plans that he’s been evolving over many years. He wishes to thank the company’s former director (Jeremy Fitton) and hopes SkyLifter will live on, returning to become an operator of Luffships’ LTA aircraft in the future.
SkyLifter Ltd was responsible for organising production and test of Charles’ design (LS-LT18) for an 18 m diameter lenticular aerostat, developed as a low-captured arrangement to test mooring arrangements and the aerostat in all weather for his omni-directional airship proposals; intended to be an overhead aerial cinema-screen for video and light-show displays at events. A prototype was made in accordance with his specifications/guidance by Airborne Industries Ltd (for the aerostat) and Skylaunch Ltd (for the ground arrangements).
The prototype was called Vikki, sponsored by Wayne Haxton (iFX Media Ltd) a specialist light projectionist (still involved with Charles) who wanted it for such purposes. It was flown several times at private locations in Shropshire during 2010/11 and then put into storage while funds for development were sought.
Charles plans its resurrection and use to continue his strategy for development of omni-directional airships, which he first revealed in 2003 at the AIAA Denver, Colorado, conference, where he gave a paper about his AeroRaft design; a proposal following CargoLifter AG’s closure (2002) for a way to achieve their objective of a serious aerial-crane airship with heavy-lift transport capability that could raise and place outsized payloads of say 100 tonne anywhere with precision control.
There wasn’t much interest for the AeroRaft at the time, but he continued with further arrangements knowing from experience that unidirectional airships, although useful for many purposes, aren’t suitable for duties needing precision control of position and heading (necessary for aerial-cranes) and good vertical ascent/descent capability – operating like helicopters, which are omni-directional aircraft. It also should be noted that helicopters are successful because of their ability to do things their aeroplane counterparts aren’t suitable for. It’s a matter of horses for courses!
He currently is pursuing GOV.UK Innovation Funding Service grant aid to enable the low captured lenticular aerostat design’s development, where he hopes to win sufficient finance (also needing risk sharing collaborators) for certification and production series versions (LS-LT15-V1 and V2), using them to first consolidate the business, and then develop airship variants starting with his LS-L20 design, a Mk 1 version, before attempting bigger types.
Charles appreciates that it perhaps won’t be possible to fully realise his dreams, but believes he can lead the show long enough to establish a secure way for the heavy-lift aerial-crane goal (such as the LS-L100 design) to be fulfilled in the future. How long that may be depends on support to begin and finance to continue further developments necessary before the goal is realisable. However, he believes that if the cycle of huge traditional type developments continues without support for new omni-directional types, it may be never!
If successful with the funding application he plans to begin development late 2018 in the UK’s heartlands, so perhaps worth looking out for. Further news will be provided via website blog-posts; where one may also register interest.