Although we probably won’t ever see our skies filled with dirigibles after that whole Hindenburg fiasco , we might see even larger whale-sized airships flying around the sky someday. What you’re looking at is the Aeroscraft; it’s not quite a plane nor a blimp, but a whole new type of aircraft from Aeros.
It might look like some kind of rendered model for a new Thunderbirds movie but this thing is actually real. According to the California-based Aeros, the aircraft is ready to begin its flying tests phase sometime in the next 60 days.
The prototype Aeroscraft is a helium-filled rigid frame aircraft—not a mere balloon—and it measures 250 feet (77 meters) in length. Think that’s big? The final model is expected to be twice as long at 500 feet, while being able to carry 66 tons, achieve a speed of 120 knots (138 miles per hour), and fly as high up as 18,000 feet in the air. It'll also be able to fly 3000 nautical miles (about 3452 "normal" miles) on a full tank.
Aeros says its Aeroscraft is different from its older airship cousins thanks to an internal ballast system that allows it to vertically take off and land by itself. In the old days, a helium or hydrogen filled zeppelin would require a ground crew to connect a hose that adds ballast—such as water—to weigh down the airship as passengers or cargo got off.
The Aeroscraft gets the same job done by compressing the helium in its tanks to make itself heavier. When the aircraft is ready to take off, it returns part of the helium gas to its containment tanks, and it uses six turbofan jet engines to control the ship's direction.
If the prototype Aeroscraft successfully completes its test flight, the company will begin building the final model, which should be ready in three years. Aeros believes that its new aircraft will be used for everything from aerial freight, tourism, and even by the military.
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This story, "The Aeroscraft is a whale of an airship, and it's getting ready to take off" was originally published by TechHive.