BBC: The giant hangar poised for an aviation revolution

Airships could offer a much cleaner and quieter alternative for some aspects of the aviation market. In a former airship factory, a new generation are taking shape

Sergey Brin turned internet search into one of the world’s most valuable businesses more than two decades ago. Now he intends to improve a technology which had its heyday long before he was born.

Brin and his team of engineers’ plan is to do this by reinventing a much older, if improved technology. A new generation of airships – the lighter-than-air craft that don’t need conventional airports – will be built in a corner of Ohio which played a unique part in the history of aviation. What’s more, if built they will be housed in one of America’s most iconic structures, the Goodyear Airdock in Akron.

Airships could help speed up the delivery of aid in disaster zones, carry air cargo much more cheaply than air freighters, and cut aviation emissions. However, similar projects in the past have struggled to overcome the complex engineering challenges involved, and have either run out of money, or left potential customers disillusioned.

“Flying an airship is unlike flying any other aircraft because it’s lighter than air and floats, instead of sinks, when you put the power at idle,” says Andrea Deyling, a pilot and director of airship operations of Brin’s airship company, LTA Research. “There’s also a sense of wonder people have when they see a lighter-than-air vehicle flying overhead. LTA Research is building a unique airship and I can’t wait to get into the actual aircraft and fly it.”

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