Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on November 30, 2009
Who can forget the pictures of the Hindenburg bursting into flames as it was landing at a New Jersey airfield in 1937? Millennium Airship, Inc. is bringing back zeppelin-style, lighter-than-air technology with its new SkyFreighter Aircraft.
The Skyfreighter looks more like a flying ergonomic computer mouse than a lighter-than-air aircraft (it took me a while to figure out that is a “blimp”), and if you’re worried about another fiery crash, the Skyfreighter uses helium rather than hydrogen for its floating power. What’s important is that this thing may just change the way markets think about transporting goods to markets.
Here’s why… Millennium boasts that the “SkyFreighter will create a paradigm shift in the aviation and trans-oceanic freight industry with the ability to transport most any product almost anywhere on the globe safely and quickly and most importantly, at very low cost.” It also has a large enough cargo hold to carry large, pre-assembled items that would otherwise need to be disassembled before transport and reassembled elsewhere. Perhaps more important is that these Airships can travel 6000 miles without refueling, using hybrid technology (Millennium doesn’t describe exactly what kind of hybrid) to power its engines.
The “G” Factor? Although Millennium states that they will lease the SkyFreighter to anyone, it seems they are focused primarily on military uses right now, marketing heavily to the U.S. military since 2001 –- so I can’t give it my personal endorsement. However it’s great to see someone pushing the discussion away from the dirty diesel engines that power 18-wheelers and cargo ships.
Whatever its ultimate use, it remains a low-emissions alternative to freighting that is cleaner and safer, and hopefully it will push the industry in a new direction.