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  • Olivier Manette

Why don't we see airships anymore today?

Updated: Mar 15

Airships were popular in the 1920s and 1930s for long-distance travel and transportation of goods. However, their use has declined for several reasons.

First, airship accidents such as the crash of the German airship Hindenburg in 1937 caused great fear and distrust of the technology. Additionally, advances in aviation have made planes faster, safer, and more efficient in transporting passengers and cargo.

Additionally, airships require special infrastructure for takeoffs and landings, limiting their use to specific locations. Finally, the high cost of building, maintaining and operating airships makes them an uneconomical option compared to airplanes.

Although there have been attempts to revive the use of airships in recent years for applications such as aerial surveillance, advertising and logistics, their use remains limited.

the maneuverability and difficulty of piloting airships are also obstacles to their use. Airships have a large sail area and their elongated shape makes them very vulnerable to side winds and turbulence. As a result, they are difficult to maneuver in windy or stormy conditions, which can compromise the safety of crew and passengers.

Additionally, piloting an airship requires great expertise and special training. Handling the pod and controls is very different from that of an airplane or helicopter, and the ability to maneuver the airship depends on many factors such as wind direction and speed.

These factors combined with the high cost of building, maintaining and operating airships, make them an unattractive option for transporting passengers or cargo, except in very specific situations, such as aerial surveillance or surveillance. advertisement.

However, it is important to note that airships have advantages over airplanes in certain applications. For example, airships can be used to transport heavy loads over long distances with high energy efficiency. Additionally, airships can remain stationary in flight, which can be useful for surveillance or scientific research operations.

Airships have several advantages over helicopters and drone planes:

  1. Transport capacity: Airships have a greater transport capacity than helicopters and drone planes because they can carry heavier loads over longer distances. This makes them ideal for transporting large and heavy cargo.

  2. Energy Efficiency: Airships are much more fuel efficient than helicopters and drone planes because they use helium as a carrier gas, which is much lighter than air and does not require energy to be kept in place. 'air. This makes them ideal for long-term surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

  3. Extended Flight Time: Airships can remain airborne for extended periods, sometimes up to several days or even weeks, without needing to land for refueling or maintenance. This makes them ideal for long-term surveillance, search and rescue operations.

  4. Ability to fly at low speeds: Airships can fly at very slow speeds, making them useful for surveillance and reconnaissance operations requiring reduced speed.

  5. Ability to hover in flight: Airships can hover in flight, making them useful for surveillance and reconnaissance operations requiring stationary observation.

  6. Low noise: Airships are generally quieter than helicopters and drone planes, making them useful for surveillance and reconnaissance operations requiring acoustic stealth.

  7. Low environmental impact: Airships use helium as a carrier gas, which is a non-toxic and non-flammable gas. Helicopters and drone planes use fossil fuel which has a greater environmental impact.

In summary, airships have greater carrying capacity, higher fuel efficiency, extended flight time, low-speed flight capability, flight stability, the ability to hover in flight, and low noise.

Although airships offer several advantages, there are still areas in which they need to improve to once again become the most widely used means of transportation in the future. Here are some key areas for improvement:

  1. Speed: Airships are currently much slower than airliners. To be competitive in terms of travel time, airships will need to be upgraded to achieve higher speeds.

  2. Maneuverability: Airships are currently more difficult to maneuver than planes, which can make them difficult to use in certain situations. Technological advances could make airships more maneuverable, making them more versatile for a variety of missions.

  3. Flight Stability: Airships are less stable in flight than helicopters and airplanes because they are more sensitive to weather conditions such as wind.

  4. Numerous accidents have stopped their use in recent years, which has completely stopped their development, especially in the face of competition from faster and safer planes.

Airships today can hardly be used for aerial work due to their major disadvantages compared to planes and helicopters. This limits them today to leisure uses in good weather. With climate change, ecological air means are once again sought after. For airships to once again become the most widely used means of transportation in the future, they will need to be improved in terms of speed, maneuverability and safety. Technological progress could make it possible to improve these aspects and create new categories of devices that are more competitive compared to other means of transport.

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