Could Zeppelin’s airships soon be gracing our skies again?

Forgive the self-linkage, but Guardian Technology (also picked up in The Hindu) has published my feature about the revival of the airship. It is pegged around the news that Zeppelins are being built again in Germany, funded by money laid-down by the original Count von Zeppelin. I also look at the latest generation of “hybrid airships”, (like the Skycat above right) that float the possibility of a less environmentally harmful form of passenger flight.

Here’s a snippet:

“What is it about airships that continues to capture the imagination? By rights, the lumbering airborne relics of a century past should be no more than museum curiosities, consigned like gas lamps to the sentimental roll-call of redundant technology. But like sacked television contestants, it’s hard to keep an idea as audacious as the airship down. With the cost of oil at record highs, and airline chiefs warning of the end of cheap flights, the idea of the airship is being seriously floated once more.

The appeal is of the airship is easy to grasp. Environmentalists like George Monbiot cite their frugal use of fuel when compared to other forms of flight. They are also quiet and fly at low altitude, at around 4,000ft compared with 35,000ft, further lessening their environmental impact. Although they are relatively slow, typically travelling at 125 mph – as quick as a high-speed train, but still needing about 43 hours to cross the Atlantic – most need no runway and could be deployed without need for further airport expansion.”