The aircraft manufacturer Aeros has unveiled the first stages of a staggering new development in aviation, the ‘blimp-like’ Aeroscraft. To use its full, technical name, it is a Rigid Variable Buoyancy Air Vehicle.
The first flight test of the Aeroscraft took place in January in a hanger in Tustin, California, hovering at 12 feet, which one flight control engineer explained as being quite significant for the project, proving that “it’s feasible”. The aircraft has been heavily invested in by the US Department of Defense and NASA, to the tune of $35 million for this prototype.
If completed as envisaged, the Aeroscraft will use a combo of aerodynamic and aerostatic principles to take off and remain airborne, with the lift powered by helium gas contained in specially made chambers. Despite being described as a blimp, thanks mostly to its shape and appearance, the aircraft is actually anything but as it is a rigid structure.
The Aeroscraft takes off and lands vertically, reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet while travelling at 130 miles per hour. Crucially, the aircraft will have the potential to carry 66 tons of cargo, with just one tank of fuel, on lengthy journeys of thousands of miles.
Eliminating the need for a runway to land or take off using VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) and hover, this makes the Aeroscraft ideal for landing in military bases and remote areas. The aircraft also does not require ballasting, thanks to its Internal Ballast Control system. This is one of the main advantages of the Aeroscraft as the cargo on board can be unloaded without re-ballasting, like the manufacturer’s previous models, Airship and Hybrid Airship. Where the likes of the Airship required frequent ballasting to anchor the ship during offloading of cargo, this new model’s internal system saves much time for offloading.
Shipping cargo, both commercial and military, is the primary use but engineers behind Aeroscraft also foresee that the aircraft will be able to transport heavy industrial equipment, such as delivering parts to pipeline construction sites as well as other remote locations.
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