Airships: the dinosaurs of the past, revived today


Russia and the United States decide to recall the past and to run in wide use forgotten airships. Many people see sense in it and therefore are ready to invest a lot of money (the account goes on hundreds of millions of dollars) for the development of the airship. In our fevered modern brain airships represent a part of the entourage of a movie, book or game in the steampunk genre. In such a fantastic reality where they are still suitable for air transport, everyone has to work for a couple, and I think magic — nothing else. All because in this story, the airship has led to the unfortunate reputation — a sort of hulking monster that has long lost its airborne brethren. His main defeat demonstrates the collapse of the largest, at that time, the airship «Ginderburg». It was a disaster, which plunged the whole look of aeronautic vehicles on the market bottom.

Once airships are unreliable, then maybe they should not restore their rights? Let continue to spread the good news of advertising around the world, and the transportation trust normal aircraft or, at worst, trains? The argument is so-so, there were many disasters and on the rails. About airplanes and we will not speak — they fall as often as the ruble. It is possible that the label of «unreliable» attached to the airships unfair? It is close to the truth, at least from the point of view of a number of academicians of RAS, the security Council, the us and Russian governments and, in particular, ourselves. But before talking about modern airships, we would like to solve the mystery airships of the past, to tell what place they occupied in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

A brief history of

Some mistakenly credited with creating the first airship by the German count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, referring to the fact that he has created Luftschiffbau (airship rigid structure, whose name became a household word as is translated as aerial vehicle). Zeppelin really did a lot for Aeronautics, he popularized it, gave romance and adventure, but began the history of the airship in France during the era of the XVIII century. At that time, the brothers Lived, one of whose name was Jacques-étienne and the second Joseph-Michel. Both of them bore the name of Montgolfier and they made the first balloon flight.

Jacques Cesar Charles, inventor, and good guy, shortly after the flight painted the project of the balloon, which was moving due to helium and hydrogen.

Then another Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Meunier, decided to create a new project of the balloon, which was to use military intelligence. Unfortunately, Less was not able to see the results of his labors — he died without seeing his creation, another Frenchman, Henri Giffard, constructed according to his plans. Actually, it was Henri Giffard made the first flight on the airship.

First, no one imbued with the French theme, except that fiction enthusiastically predicted how to develop Aeronautics as the sky is filled with flying ships that really, if you look at the pictures, was like a Caravel with a huge balloon instead of sails. To the XX century the flights were reluctant, as their risks exceeded the permissible limits. There were, of course, idiots who develop this sphere, but these were units like Alberto Santos-Dumont, who flew by dirigible in 1901, the Eiffel tower.

The main problem with airships in those years was the imperfection of the engine when it was steam. In principle, it is a steam engine and can explain the late start of the «age of airships», which began with the creation of the internal combustion engine and has already been mentioned, the inventor von Zeppelin.


For Zeppelin there are different conversations, his face still defies analysis. One thing is for sure — he was a little crazy. But not in the sense that he imagined himself a giant tortoise on which rests the whole world, and that he was phenomenally committed to the cause of Aeronautics. He burned flights and was crazy about any kind of airships. Count von Zeppelin believed that the airships for the future. Proof of this is the fact that Zeppelin gave the house as collateral, land and family jewels to start LZ-3 — airship rigid structure, which will rise on arms of the German military. The launch, as you know, was successful. It was held in 1906. The first world war was the impetus for the development of airships. They became a pretty scary weapon (imagine the reaction of ordinary soldiers on the field of battle) of all the major countries participating in the conflict. Germany has left its competitors far behind, mainly thanks to the genius of count von Zeppelin. Airships, of course, used not only for military but also for civilian traffic. Machines of the time could easily be transported by air cargo to 8-12 tons.

Passenger transportation was also popular, first line began in 1910 (flight from Friedrichshafen to Dusseldorf), a little later, the same flights appeared in France and England. In Russia, the sky was also attacked for «air ships» but this craft was first on the conscience of the Amateur gatherings, not the state. Balloons designed such well-known and trendy inventors like Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Igor Sikorsky. The Imperial government did not immediately appreciated the military potential of these devices, but the outbreak of the First world, he was able to supply the Russian army 18th military airships.


Overall, it is clear that without the count von Zeppelin no future for airships would not be, as without it there would be no decline. To explain this paradox. He spent a fortune of his own pocket to design this kind of transport, which now seems very exotic. But, in the early twentieth century, he was already quite widespread. Thanks to his perseverance, and, in a sense, the courage we are seeing now a new stage of development of the airship. Fate of course decided to make fun of a famous inventor. His main achievement — the airship «Ginderburg», which is called the air Titanic (245 yards against the ship’s 269 meters), crashed. In other words, Graf Zeppelin revived and buried interest in such transportation. But today, this revived interest and, in particular, in Russia.

Russia and modernity


Modernity is not the best time for airships. They are often used as aerial advertising space, which undoubtedly makes the count von Zeppelin to roll over in his grave. Passenger transport is rare to ugliness. Sometimes the blimps are used for aerial photography, but I think modern quadrocopter for these purposes is more practical and cheaper.

However, recently there was news on the project «United Eurasia», which is a system of transport corridors, which would connect the TRANS-Siberian railway, Baikal-Amur mainline and Northern sea route. Looks like another waste of budgetary funds for the project are going to spend around 220-240 billion, in conditions of economic crisis, it sounds sad. On the other hand, such a system should have been built decades ago and, much due to her absence, we have still trouble with the Northern regions. But there can also develop tourism, and manufacturing. In General, on paper it looks nice and well, and as will be the case — we’ll see. Our task — to tell about the airships in the framework of this project. In fact, they are painted in detail.

The project was initiated by academician Alexander by Nekipelova and the security Council of the Russian Federation. As a transport, among other things, the draft specified the airship system of ATLANTA, which seek to commercialize. «United Eurasia» looks like another futuristic project with a power that is not particularly feel the earth beneath my feet, but at least he looks nice and sets itself very noble goals.

Airships ATLAS compares favorably to the MI-8 helicopters, which are used today in the far North in the field of transportation. First, the cost of mass production does not exceed $ 30 million. Second, even the small airship ATLANT (capacity 16 tons) can replace the five Mi-8 helicopters, which makes the payback for less than four years. But the manufacturer wants to run a lineup with the capacity of 60 and 170 tons. Third, the flight time of the airship is many times cheaper than the flight time of the helicopter. Official data indicate 24-35 rubles per tonne-km vs 115 rubles per tonne-kilometer of the helicopter. Fourth, the airship can land on water and even on an unprepared ground (plane this can be problematic). Fifth, if we are talking about passenger transport, then, without doubt, the airships will open new dimensions of comfort — because more space, you can at least bring a separate dining room.

I hope that this massive project will not remain only on paper, but the authors should hurry, because this summer’s «American colleagues» unleash Airlander 10 is the largest airship in the world today. It is believed that this airship is perfect for the transportation of complex cargo.

But before you use this rig for commercial purposes, the manufacturer has more than two hundred hours to test the aircraft in the air. The graph is sufficiently dense, the task is very difficult, but winning from it is palpable — airships in length, 120 meters can carry up to fifty tons of cargo. And even a low speed does not negate the low cost of transportation. So, our «ATLANTA» is not the extravagance of officials, and a global trend.