Omni-directional (O-D) aerostats and airships are relatively new ways to go with flight ability in any direction (like balloons and helicopters) for particular duties that, in some cases, either isn’t possible or economically viable for other aircraft (mainly UD types) on a commercial basis.
Ideas for them (spherical, lenticular, natural symmetrically shaped types and so forth) arose from experience trying to develop a huge classic style unidirectional (UD) airship for aerial crane and transport duties with seriously heavy outsized payloads that didn’t succeed due to the enormous costs involved and multiple technology risks (far too many) plus practically nonexistent infrastructure aspects that had to be solved simultaneously. It was concluded from the experience that UD types are not generally suitable for heavy lift aerial crane duties.
The way forward became clear at a fraction of the cost from a parallel project, instead based on a towed dumb barge spherical balloon system for 50 tonne payloads (when ground towed) or 75 tonne (when air towed). This successfully was used to transport a c55 tonne military mine clearance tank; where its external mooring & handling arrangements held the balloon securely through all weather conditions (including storms) 15 Apr to 10 July 2002. This arrangement was O-D, where that was concluded to be a better way to follow.
It may be said that the goal for serious heavy lift operations with a dirigible LTA-aircraft is worthy and remains to be fulfilled, needing a viable way to proceed. We were organised to pursue new arrangements that help people understand how the goal for such aircraft can be achieved.
This includes progressive methods to instead grow from small undertakings before embarking mammoth projects with huge risk; but needing patience, tolerance and further market opportunities to be engaged – since, clearly, small types are unsuitable for heavy lift purposes, but they do cost (needing a way for payback).
O-D Airships to start with
New O-D airships for heavy lift and other special purposes (such as high altitude variants) thus were designed and then scaled down through several steps to business entry level versions. These small versions then naturally would be representative of much larger types to instead use, learn and develop from; but that could change as things then progress. They thus enable key technology development aspects necessary and the infrastructure, which hardly exists yet, for mammoth types to be developed in secure low-risk ways.
When one considers the way helicopters took their place as viable types it should be clear that O-D airships have roles to play for similar good reasons, such as:
- Not having to face the wind direction all the time
- Depending on configuration, ability to freely move laterally (forwards, backward or sideways), vertically, rotate and/or hold a geostationary position/altitude without rocking
- Ability to vertically launch, be captured and operate unaided within relatively small enclosed areas
- Ability to be fixed when moored near the ground and be cloaked for protection
- Long endurance, which helicopters can’t manage
- Low noise, vibration, fuel consumption and emissions
Although we have designs for spherical and natural form types (information from contact) we think the lenticular aerostat form will suit operators’ needs better. See the Lenticular Aerostats page for further information.