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Aeros completes construction of Aeroscraft demonstrator

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January 3, 2013

Aeros has completed construction of its Aeroscraft airship proof-of-design sub-scale proto...

Aeros has completed construction of its Aeroscraft airship proof-of-design sub-scale prototype

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California-based Aeros Corporation has completed construction of its Aeroscraft airship proof-of-design sub-scale prototype. The 79-meter (260-ft) long aircraft will demonstrate the vertical take-off and landing and point to point delivery capabilities of the platform, paving the way for a planned full-scale craft that will be almost twice as long and carry payloads of up to 66 tons.

“The vehicle construction is complete and this is truly the beginning of a vertical global transportation solution for perhaps the next 100 years,” said Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak after the final configuration and vehicle systems integration functionality testing was completed.

Calling it “the world’s first rigid variable buoyancy air vehicle,” Aeros hopes the Aeroscraft will revolutionize global cargo transport for commercial and military sectors with its ability to load and unload cargo without re-ballasting or ground infrastructure and deliver cargo point to point more economically and with less emissions than existing methods.

Video of the completed Aeroscraft’s first (ground) movement can be viewed below, but we’re looking forward to video of its first flight in the not too distant future.

Source: Aeros

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Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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18 Comments

I really hope all goes well. If it does it could be a new era in air transportation, but if it fails, I think that will be the end of the consideration of airships. People have been irrationally leery of them ever since the Hindenburg.

yrag
3rd January, 2013 @ 07:07 pm PST

Who else thought "Thunderbirds are go!" when they saw the first picture?

TheSplund
4th January, 2013 @ 01:04 am PST

This is restricted to specialty uses. For a better alternative for low cost heavy lift with broad applicability see concordlift.com . No issues have been identified that show it to be impractical or unworkable.

Stephen Funck
4th January, 2013 @ 08:25 am PST

Well it wasn't really the Hindenburg that killed them off, it was due to the fact that after WW2 there where very good airports all over the world and lots of companies that knew about big air plane manufacturing. But with the coming monomolecular sheet materials and other super materials airships can be a big thing again. Even a cloud city wouldn't be impossible.

Toffe Kaa
4th January, 2013 @ 09:44 am PST

I'd bet it won't last 1 yr in service as winds will crash it just like all the previous ones.

As a sailor, aerodynamics designer I understand winds, weather very well and no way a vessel like this won't get manhandled by the wind before long.

jerryd
4th January, 2013 @ 10:13 am PST

Your concord lift requires special handling of freight, and the ultra-large version would require specially designed landing fields.

Areos is designed to deliver or pick-up loads without landing.

The total cost/efficiency end to end for delivery of freight is much higher with Areos.

Robin McCabe
4th January, 2013 @ 10:30 am PST

I think this has potential to be a good fair-weather craft. I love the idea of dirigibles so I am automatically supportive, I just wonder where the thrust comes from and how the variable buoyancy actually works. The Aeroscraft has big wings / stabilizers, but those features will have zero effectiveness at zero airspeed. That's the point of this craft isn't it, the ability to hover and deposit a big payload? I still think Zeppelin NT, with its vectored thrust and net-negative buoyancy, makes more sense.

Grunchy
4th January, 2013 @ 11:22 am PST

@ jerryd - I agree that wind poses a big problem for this craft, but as long as you test it thoroughly, so you know what the maximum safe wind speed it, and then never fly in anything above that number, you should be fine.

I look forward to seeing this pig fly!

Derek Howe
4th January, 2013 @ 11:27 am PST

Concordlift can land on short fields, very slow stall and cruise speed. Uses standard shipping containers and no more than existing big fork lifts.

Stephen Funck
4th January, 2013 @ 02:29 pm PST

jerryd, don't you think that aeros knows weather was an issue to big airships from 80, 90, 100 years ago? Bad weather on earth hasn't gotten much worse in that time, but airship technology has improved dramatically. This airship is heavier than air, can control its bouyancy, has a much greater power ratio, posesses vectored thrust, and has 1/4 the "sail area" of a conventional airship of a similar volume. Airships ran into problems when the winds exceeded their top speed- just look at the YouTube video of the little Goodyear advertising blimp fighting against a hurricane and being pushed backwards. But that airship had a top speed of about 55 miles per hour. This one has a top speed of 140. Not to mention it has the range, speed, and weather-radar capabilities to read and escape from the worst parts of a storm.

J. James
4th January, 2013 @ 03:07 pm PST

Stephen, I think you're trashing the aeroscraft as a "specialty use" vehicle because it represents a real danger to your own nascent aircraft design. And for good reason! This "concord" is essentially a gigantic flying brick with a vast array of engines, that flies extremely slowly. Let's just compare the two, shall we?

Aeroscraft: up to 500 tons, 110 knot cruise, 120 knot max, 1/4 fuel consumption of an airplane, 1/3 the cost to buy, $.20 per ton-mile, needs no landing facilities or ground crew at all

Concord: less than 500 tons, not counting linkages, 100 knot cruise, immense amount of engines(presumably low fuel economy), god knows how expensive, $.40 per ton mile, and can only land at super-sized, super-expensive airports.

Honestly, how are you going to handle the logistics of the linkup thing? For one, can you say "midair collision?" How about "Structural integrity," "wind shear," or "metal fatigue?" For another, how on earth are you going to land it? Any airport would be hopelessly ill-equipped to handle that 1,000-foot thing landing conjoined, much less have a bunch of massive airplanes clog up the works all at the same time.

J. James
4th January, 2013 @ 03:59 pm PST

just the thing for taking over sized loads off the highways.

Slowburn
4th January, 2013 @ 09:40 pm PST

jerryd,

"I'd bet it won't last 1 yr in service as winds will crash it just like all the previous ones."

All the previous ones? I suppose you're not aware that the Graf Zeppelin flew over a million miles during its service life with no major incidents. Or the Navy's Los Angeles dirigible was decommissioned after eight years of service, not after a crash. Likewise England's R100 was retired, not crashed. Plenty more such stories if you care to look for them.

What's an "aerodynamics designer"? I've worked with aeronautical engineers, but none would ever refer to themselves by that term.

Gadgeteer
6th January, 2013 @ 10:23 am PST

I hope this is the real deal. I am currently a big rig truck driver and I think all the time about how much more efficient it would be to be floating over the open spaces instead of rolling down the road in a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 lbs, an every-present danger to regular cars.

If the least little thing goes wrong, it can be horrible. It just takes one little patch of black ice to cause a horrendous crash. A couple of weeks ago I was stranded in Nebraska just because of some untimely snow (not much of it) that melted on I-80 and then refroze overnight. In a craft like the aeroscraft, we'd have been able to totally ignore all that and just keep sailing.

Again, I really hope this thing succeeds.

Facebook User
6th January, 2013 @ 11:24 am PST

@ David Donovan. You seem like a turkey voting for Christmas! It looks like you want to give up your job. The sooner the better.

Presumably the Aeros is filled with helium, which is okay, but is not an inexhaustible supply. It is certainly an economic way to travel, but a bit on the slow side (rather like a barge on a canal, which can carry very heavy loads, slowly)

David Colton Clarke
18th January, 2013 @ 09:27 am PST

It sounds great. But I look at it and even at twice the size I have to wonder how it can possibly lift 66 tons. It does not use conventional lift. Helium is light but 66 tons lighter come on.

As for Concordlift, it's a joke right? If I ever see one of them actually built (not just a R/C model) I will eat my hat.

Foxy1968
1st April, 2013 @ 02:24 pm PDT

From what I can determine, the cruising speed of the Aeroscraft is about half that expected of California's proposed high-speed rail, and roughly twice (legal) freeway speed. Given a more-or-less as-the-crow-flies route, and the ability of the craft to set down anywhere there is enough room, that's pretty fast transportation within a regional area.

Instead of HSR, might we not start sending Aeroscrafts from SF to LA and back on a frequent basis? The airships might be expensive, but they could go into service immediately, requiring no special infrastructure or terminals. Indeed, airships could go on line as demand for the service grew, until a whole fleet of them could be flying several continuous loops between our major cities (meaning, no worries if you miss an airship, as another will be along in minutes). The speed of transport might not be as quick as the HSR, but it would be mitigated by direct routes, and the scenic nature of flight. Also, the large airship could include a restaurant/internet café, movie theater, and other accommodations that would help passengers pass the transit time, which would still be far less than automobile or non-HSR rail. Bad weather might slow airship travel, or ground it, unlike HSR. But if, God forbid, there were an airship accident, there would be no need to close, clear, or rebuild tracks, as there would be in the case that a train accident happened, or bad weather caused track obstruction or damage.

It seems to me that we might be able to have an "airship train" sooner, more conveniently, and much less expensively than any land-based high speed rail. I hope the powers that be look into this as an alternative.

James Anderson Merritt
13th September, 2013 @ 11:40 am PDT

They probably have to got two a two fuel lifting system with a hydrogen cylinder in side the helium outer container.. We will need these in the future it is good to keep building

Michael Donovan
18th October, 2013 @ 09:29 am PDT
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