FAQ

Can airships explode or catch fire?
No. We use Helium as our lifting gas, which is completely inert and non-flammable. (In the old days, ships like the Hindenburg were filled with hydrogen which did burn).

What happens if someone shoots at the airship ?
Because the airship is filled with such a huge volume of gas (about 250,000 cubic feet) and under very low pressure, gas will only leak out at a very slow rate.

The British Ministry of Defence fired many hundreds of bullets into an airship envelope during tests in 1994. It still took many hours to deflate and land.

Do you deflate the envelope ?

No. We hardly ever deflate, unless there is an emergency. Normally, the envelope lasts up to 10 years and during that time we continually check and purify the helium levels and the pressure. Occasionally we "top up" the helium if there is some leakage during the year.

Is the airship affected by winds or bad weather ?
Like any aircraft, the airship is affected by weather. Normally, we would not want to take off or land in winds exceeding 30 knots. Roughly speaking we would operate in conditions similar to those of a helicopter.

While on the mooring mast, we can sustain winds up to 100 knots.

Although we can fly in rain or bad weather, and we can operate during a storm safely (because the airship is a buoyant vehicle), we would rather not as it becomes uncomfortable for the crew and passengers.

What happens if the engines stop ?
The airship would "free balloon". It is a buoyant vehicle and is kept safely aloft by the helium in the envelope. If we lost all power, the pilot is trained to descend carefully, as if he were flying a balloon.

How many pilots and crew are needed to operate the airship ?
We fly with two pilots at all times. We have a crew of up to 20 people, which includes extra pilots, engineers, mechanics and ground crew.

Do you need a hangar ?

We only need a hangar about twice a year, for maintenance checks. Normally, the ship is kept outside, day and night, on tour all over the country for 10 months of the year.

What is the difference between a rigid, semi-rigid, and non-rigid airship ?
All airships use an envelope (balloon-like bag of gas) to lift the airship. Some used a metal "skeleton" or frame inside the envelope to give shape to the ship; these were called rigid airships, and examples included the R100 and R101 in England, the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg in Germany and the Akron, Macon and Los Angeles in the USA.

Non-rigid airships (sometimes called "blimps") use no frame inside, but keep their shape by virtue of the design of the envelope and the gas pressure. This allows for great flexibility in the envelope or "hull" of the ship, which can more easily absorb stresses - bending and flexing, during flight and landing in all sorts of weather.

Semi-rigid airships are like a non-rigid with a "keel" along the bottom of the envelope to help spread the load of the gondola (or cabin) more evenly through the envelope.

Due to strong, lightweight materials for envelopes and gondolas developed since the 1970’s, virtually all airships today are non-rigid.

Is a "dirigeable" an airship?
Yes, the word "dirigeable" is derived from the French word meaning steerable. As the first time airships had to be balloons - but steerable balloons - they were called "dirigeables". All airships are dirigeables.

Is the envelope divided into many compartments ?
Most large modern airships only divide the envelope into three main compartments - two are filled with air (called "ballonets") and a large one filled with helium.

How long can an airship stay aloft ?

Our airships could stay aloft, without refueling, for up to 24 hours. With extra tanks, one of our Skyships flew for 52 hours without refueling in 1990.

How high can the airships fly?
Our airships normally operate at around 1,500 to 3,000 feet. We can, however, go up to 8,000 but the payload is reduced.

How fast does the airship go?

We normally cruise around 30 to 50 mph., but we can go up to 70 mph (or faster, if we have a tailwind!).

Fuel Consumption:
While cruising at 30 knots, the Skyship consumes 8 gallons (48 lbs.) of fuel per hour. During a week of operations, the Skyship consumes less fuel than a 767 uses to simply move away from it's gate to a runway!!


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