Engineering Headlines

Flying Whale delivering pre-fabricated houses by air

International cooperation a heavy-duty Zeppelin, which can transport up to 60 t load in rough areas and that companies and Governments is currently developing with extremely low consumption. Graph-based high performance ultra-capacitors make this possible.

The whales take the air! No, it’s not biological sensation, but “only” a message from aviation: the French company “Flying Whales” and the technology group skeleton technologies based in Estonia and the East German Bautzen jointly build a heavy duty air ship. The French Government, China and Morocco, as well as a number of other companies are also involved in the plans.

LCA60T: A Zeppelin filled with helium with stable outer shell

Together they are working on the LCA60T, up to 60t can carry a helium-filled Zeppelin with stable housing, the loads and reasonably quickly, cheaply, and on routes that could handle the other means of transport not in a dream. Also bulky loads such as masts, aircraft parts or entire prefabricated houses are possible: what doesn’t fit in the provided load space of 8 m height, 8 m wide and 75 m in length, is simply attached by rope winch.

Flying Whale delivering pre-fabricated houses by air
Photo: Sketeton Technologies

Exactly how well the loading functions: the goods in the or to attach under the cargo area must not land the “flying whale” as the LCA60T is called, but hovers over the landing stage. What to ride, is simply pulled up and stowed or secured. Just in inaccessible areas, the airship beats almost all other means of transport: it takes no roads or runways, not even a fortified place is necessary.

Vertical takeoff and landing

Also can planes different also and landing. “We develop LCA60T specifically, to transport large amounts of timber from inaccessible terrain”, explains S├ębastian Bougon, head of flying whales. The French forest Agency to simplify their timber transport is accordingly interested on this technique. Also help transport in regions with poor infrastructure are possible, one of the reasons why Morocco with the development is on board.

Is the cargo once on board and properly secured can start the journey. Up to 100 km/h creates the heavy cigar, and that with energy demand, which is well below the cargo helicopters: the LCA60T needs just one-tenth the fuel quantity required for helicopters, which range can be up to several thousand kilometers and the running costs are estimated 50,000 euros on the day also significantly lower than at the helicopters, which cost up to one million euros a day.

Plug-in hybrid electric and diesel motors

The relatively low energy consumption is primarily on the innovative hybrid propulsion of small electric and diesel engines, as well as the use of graph-based ultra capacitors, a specialty of skeleton technologies. These are electrochemical capacitors that have a lower energy density, but very quickly and often closed in comparison with rechargeable batteries and can be unloaded.

Skeleton Technologies
Small, black, strong: Skeleton technologies develops and manufactures ultracapacitors with, according to own statements, five-fold higher power output and up to five times higher energy density than other ultra capacitor manufacturer. Photo: Skeleton Technologies

The ultra capacitors are used, when around 1.5 MW is needed is the normal driving, but also during loading and unloading, when lifting, floating or stabilizing in bad weather: then around 2 MW are required. By the energy stored in the capacitor, the motors in these maneuvers must not more work than during normal operation. For this reason, the flying whale caused relatively little cost and CO2 emissions.

Hybrid Air
LMH-1 consists of three helium-filled cells that have a wing-shaped cross-section and generate additional buoyancy. Thus the Zeppelin consumes only one-fifth as much fuel as a plane. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Competition is also based between Zeppelins

The flying whale is not the only heavy duty air ship, which is currently planned and built: the defense company Lockheed Martin for example working on a crossing from aircraft, helicopters, and Zeppelin, that can carry up to 19 passengers and 20 tons payload.