Could the New Airlander Revolutionize Cruising—Or Air Ambulance Travel?
Last month, we shared some tips on how to stay safe and avoid an air medical evacuation while cruising. Of course, we were talking about cruising at sea. But a revolutionary new aircraft recently unveiled in Great Britain could soon make it possible for people to cruise in the air.
The Airlander is essentially a new kind of blimp created by Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd. It's the world's largest aircraft—30 feet longer than the longest airplane—and it's greener than planes as well, since it's powered by helium and uses 70% less fuel than traditional aircraft. The creators of the Airlander also seem to have resolved some of the problems that accompany traditional helium-filled blimps, like the fact that they need to be tied down.
Other fun facts about the Airlander:
- It could fly around the world twice in one trip
- It can stay in the air for as long as three weeks
- It can fly unmanned and engineers can land the craft via remote control
- It doesn't need a runway to land, which means it could go places that planes (including air ambulances) currently can't go
- You could ride on it sooner than you think. The first passenger flights are planned for 2016.
Right now, it all sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. But the goal is to turn the Airlander (which was originally developed as a military vehicle) into a viable mode of passenger transport, most likely as a luxury cruise vehicle. While travel speeds will be slow (around 100 miles per hour) it could offer a unique way to see the world, especially remote, hard-to-access areas like Antarctica or the Amazonian rain forest. Other aspects of the craft, like the hovercraft technology that will allow it to land on almost any flat surface, including water, sand and ice, could make it useful for humanitarian efforts, or, we suspect, even as an air ambulance.
While we'll have to wait a few years to catch a flight on the Airlander, it's still an exciting development. Who knows? Perhaps our next cruise will be in the skies.