Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Heavy-lift and ultra-heavy-lift hybrid aircraft

There appear to be an increasing array of vehicles in a class of hybrid aircraft which derive more than half of their lift by Helium buoyancy and the balance via aerodynamic lift produced by aerodynamic shaping.

These would appear in effect to be modern day successors to airships

A short list of websites include
  • Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) with a range of their own SkyCats. Website link include video of test flight. Powered by gas turbines the 200 model will carry payload of 200 tonnes and has dimensions of  185m x 77m x 47m.  Their Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) range will take payloads spanning 20 to 1000 tonnes and operate at heights up to circa 3,000m at speeds between 160 and 200 km/h, with endurance up to 5 days. They further note that the SkyCats consume as much as 70% less fuel per tonne kilometre than conventional aircraft.  
  • SkyFreight - heavy lift cargo from World SkyCat. Their website claims that 'at under $0.20 per ton/km, and given the vehicle’s relatively high speed (155 kph), the SkyCat-220 becomes directly cost-competitive with trucks and other forms of overland freight.'
Additionally in November 2009, Flight Global reported that US Army revives hybrid airship interest in LEMV for Afghanistan. 

Recent history and issues
Patent and design issues surrounding recent developments appear to be an issue in some reports. Anecdotally there are appear to several companies with similar designs and brand names and is not clear what if any is the association between them.

It was reported that in July 2005, the Advanced Technologies Group Ltd went into administration under Part II of the Insolvency Act 1986. The article in aerospace technology includes examples of model, referred to as SkyCats, and their use. 

The German Cargolifter project was abandoned in 2002. The three people in the bottom left of the picture give a sense of the scale of this hangar.