With so many interesting ways to fly, blimps don’t receive much of the spotlight. However, one company is hoping to change the way we use blimps in the future.
Mr Burns is a test pilot for Hybrid Air Vehicles, a British engineering company that is pioneering a comeback of the dirigible behemoths of yesteryear with a modern twist that will make them both safer and significantly more efficient than their predecessors.
The Cranfield-based company, that struggled for years to be taken seriously by the aviation industry, has just signed a multimillion-pound contract with a Canadian firm to supply a brand new range of heavy-lift airships that will carry goods to remote areas of the Arctic, where roads are non-existent.
They will be used mainly in the mining industry to ship in heavy equipment and take away raw material from some of the most remote communities in North America. The first generation of 300ft-long (91m) ships will be able to lift up to 20 tons but there are plans for vessels that could lift ten times that.
[Just] don’t call it an airship. “We’re really trying to get away from that word,” says Gordon Taylor, the company’s Canadian-born, smooth- talking marketing director. “If anything they’re closer to airplanes, there’s a fundamental difference. We like to call them hybrid air vehicles because they amalgamate both the technology of an aeroplane and an airship.”
Logo from Hybrid Air Vehicles