Thursday, 8 November 2007

Aeroscraft: A Hybrid Airship's First Flight

Even though the Aeroscraft dwarfs the largest commercial airliners, it requires less net space on the ground than any plane because it doesn't need a runway. The airship takes off and lands like a helicopter.

The Aeroscraft is 850 feet (260 metres) in length, and has a top speed of 174 miles per hour, faster than conventional airships (top speed around 90 mph) but slower than jet aircraft (500 mph). It has a flight ceiling of 8000 feet.

The Aeroscraft uses a combination of aerodynamic and aerostatic principles to remain airborne. Approximately two-thirds of the craft's lift is provided by helium gas. The remaining lift is provided by the forward thrust of the craft's propellers, in combination with its aerodynamic shape, and its canards (forward fins) and empennage (rear fins).

As well as its horizonal propellers, the Aeroscraft has six downward-pointing turbofan jet engines for vertical take-off and landing. The craft also uses Dynamic Buoyancy Management, a novel technology which controls buoyancy by taking in air from the surrounding atmosphere and holding it in pressurised tanks. These systems make the Aeroscraft capable of landing on rough or snowy terrain, or on water.

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