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Flying Ship Alters Cargo Haulage Story, Winning Dynamics For Landlocked States


The Oasis Reporters

April 26, 2018







The flying ship.


Flying Whale in the air.






Do ships fly?
The quick response to this question is ‘no’, they sail. Whales too swim, and they can dance in water. But the story of shipping is set to change radically and for the better. For now ships are about to start flying at 110km per hour and what tonnage they carry on water can now be flown non stop in the air. Landlocked states are about to cheer and cheer this innovative technological revolution.




The landlocked French speaking Niger Republic that is not of Nigeria set to build a new General Hospital that would end medical tourism for it’s officials but the problem was how to cool the walls on a lean budget. Flying in the insulation materials from China to Lagos and hauling it by road from the Nigerian port city over 2000 km stretch by road trip was to be too costly. So an alternative was sought using local technology and the hospital now newly opened has no air-conditioning.



With the entry into the global race to develop a viable cargo airship with a 500-foot (152-metre) blimp designed to lift lumber from deep woodland by France, all that is set to change.



Flying Whales is joining a contest that includes defence giant Lockheed Martin and a clutch of smaller players. What’s different about the latest project is the combined benefit of the blimp being able to lift an industry-leading 60 tons, but without any requirement for mooring pylons.



The company has already secured about 200 million euros ($323 million) in capital. It plans an initial public offering in 2021, when a prototype is slated for its first flight.



“There have been a lot of blimp projects over time and there have been many failures,” Flying Whales founder and chief executive officer Sebastien Bougon said in an interview. “We have a solid base. The wood market alone justifies our investments, and we’ve got low-risk prospects beyond.”



The Flying Whale is safer and it does not need to keep landing from airport to airport to refuel.


It is powered by electricity. And just say ‘Solar’, the sun is in the air. One more nail in the coffin of fossil fuels. Though it can also use diesel as alternative.



The Flying Whale will be twice as long as a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and have a rigid structure with individual pockets of helium, technically making it an airship rather than a blimp, which relies solely on internal gas pressure requiring minimal power.



Bougon estimates likely sales at 5 billion euros over 10 years from a fleet of 150 machines built in factories in France and China.



Beyond logging, markets could include the transportation of outsize parts and machinery, and companies including rail-industry giant Alstom and oil-services provider Technip have expressed an interest, according to Bougon.



Investors include state fund Bpifrance, which injected 25 million euros this month, and AVIC, China’s main producer of warplanes, transport aircraft and helicopters. France’s ONF national forestry office and the Nouvelle Aquitaine region in the south-west of the country are also backing the project.



Attempts have been made to revive the airship before, most notably by Cargolifter, which failed in 2002 after seeking to develop a craft with a 160-ton payload



But Flying Whales isn’t alone in betting that technological advances and the push for greener transport mean that the blimp’s time has come.



The Flying Whale’s design allows a bigger payload to be carried, or slung beneath the airship, the elimination of the need to land also makes it safer, according to Bougon, who said the craft could easily transform into a pilot-less drone. Current plans envisage keeping at least two people on board for security reasons, however.



As the legacy of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, in which 36 people died when the 800-foot Zeppellin crashed in a ball of flames at Lakehurst naval station, New Jersey, may have cast a big obstacle to the return of the airship in the past, new technologies and materials have helped turn it’s testimonies to the awesome economic advantages of its operations and safety in the present.




Consider this : A Helicopter can carry 5 tons of cargo. A flying ship will carry 50 to 60 tons. The cost implications for the flying ship is definitely cheaper and faster. Landlocked countries like emerging economies of Ethiopia, Niger Republic, Lesotho, Swaziland etc, should jump for joy and cheerfully sing. Better days are coming even for rapidly growing Eastern Nigeria without access to the port who make the Lagos airports boom.



Contributor : The Sydney Morning Herald with Oasis In-house team.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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