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On 3/30/2017 at 4:00 PM, DerekL1963 said:

If that's true - then where are they today?  If that's true - then why was there only one company building and operating passenger airships at the time of the Hindenburg's loss?

Also don't forget that Goodyear had a "fleet" of blimps operating for *decades*.  They probably didn't bother to optimize them since they primarily existed for advertising, but they did exist and had all the infrastructure that implied.  And they never bothered to make any more (that weren't designed as flying billboards/camera mounts) even though doing so would sell plenty of rubber.

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19 hours ago, YNM said:

Seriously ? I'd rather worry about breaking the whole thing or suffering from bends... you realize the bags expands and contracts right ? And the sheets aren't meant to hold your feet ? And the payload capacity won't change at all ?

The outer envelope of a rigid airship isn't the gasbag, it's just there for aerodynamics.  With a rigid airship you can build all of the various non-gas spaces into that envelope and can also have things like walkways so that you can access engines, go up to a lookout on the top of the ship, use a hatch integrated into the mooring system at the front, etc.

If you look at pictures of the Hindenburg, you will notice that it's just the control car and the engine nacelles that stick out.  If you look behind the control car you will notice a row of windows in the envelope, depending on which side that's either a couple of lounges or the dining room.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Chakat Firepaw said:

The outer envelope of a rigid airship isn't the gasbag, it's just there for aerodynamics.  With a rigid airship you can build all of the various non-gas spaces into that envelope and can also have things like walkways so that you can access engines, go up to a lookout on the top of the ship, use a hatch integrated into the mooring system at the front, etc.

If you look at pictures of the Hindenburg, you will notice that it's just the control car and the engine nacelles that stick out.  If you look behind the control car you will notice a row of windows in the envelope, depending on which side that's either a couple of lounges or the dining room.

Yeesh - something three twenty-seven (volumes) times the size of a 747 only carried 70 passengers, with one crew for each, only travelled about that number much ? Not worth it. Unless you're a king or something (but kings take planes today !)

Again - airships are cumbersomely large.

Edited by YNM

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Airships are awesome but impractical. Of course, had we invested in the technology much earlier (we've been flying them, as a species, for over 150 years) we might've seen them used more in the past. Up until airplanes reached the point where they could compete. Even the bombing of England during WWI was more deadly when flights of Gotha bombers were doing the dirty work than the Zeppelins. And they made almost half as many raids. That was when airplanes were made of wood and fabric, with engines less powerful than the modern car (in most cases).

But that doesn't mean they aren't awesome. And they may yet find a use. Perhaps above the surface of Venus, in the far flung future. Although the winds there are pretty scary...

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17 hours ago, YNM said:

Yeesh - something three twenty-seven (volumes) times the size of a 747 only carried 70 passengers, with one crew for each, only travelled about that number much ? Not worth it. Unless you're a king or something (but kings take planes today !)

Again - airships are cumbersomely large.

Twenty seven times the size of a 747. Carrying 70 passengers and 40 crew. But instead of a bunch of seats put in rows with aisles in-between, the Hindenburg (and the Graf Zeppelin II) was a luxury aircraft. You know those luxury cruise lines? It's that, but for the air. It was never intended to be an aircraft like the 747. It's much larger, of course. But it's sister ship has enough payload capacity (about 102,000 kg) to transport hundreds of people. It wouldn't be comfortable, but neither are 747s, usually. And you have to remember that this was the 1930s. Technology now compared to then is very different. You can't get around the size of the airship, of course, but you can get around having a large crew with better automation and you can lighten the structural mass with new materials.

Between 1910 and 1914, DELAG carried over 30,000 passengers on its Zeppelins, without injury. This was halted by WWI, of course. And, sadly, a similar tale would play out leading up to WWII. The worst airship disaster in history only killed 36. 583 died in the worst airplane disaster in history. Although planes are used much more often and carry more people, which would lead to a higher number of accidents and deaths...

What killed the airship wasn't the Hindenburg. Nor was it their lack of ability as a vehicle. Nor was it any inherent flaw in airships. What killed the airship was WWII. This war literally changed everything. Geopolitics, technology, methods of travel, and so on. But why did it kill airships? Well, airships weren't "dead" as they continued to exist, and still exist to the present day. But they were no longer used to fly passengers, at least for some time. Why? Well, in 1940 the LZ-127 and the Hindenburg-class LZ-130 were scrapped for parts for the war. Then, after the war, tens of thousands of leftover DC-10s/C-47s flooded the market for commercial transportation aircraft. With relatively cheap and abundant aircraft for airlines, and the massive degree of improvement as well as the invention of the jet engine around the time of WWII, airships died as a method of air transport. And it stayed that way. LZ-131 was under construction at the time the order to scrap the Zeppelin fleet was given. In the 1936 season, the Hindenburg made 17 round trips across the Atlantic. It carried almost 3000 passengers. Just one airship, just one year. Its lifetime was cut short by the Hindenburg disaster. An airship, designed for helium, forced to use hydrogen. Had it been designed for hydrogen, this disaster may not have ever occurred. The LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin (half the volume of the LZ-129), flew from 1928 to 1937 on hydrogen. It was the forced turnover to helium that hampered growth of the Zeppelin fleet afterwards, and forced the retirement of the LZ-127. All after a ship which was supposed to use helium used hydrogen instead. But the LZ-130 was still built, and the 131 was under construction. It was a setback, but not a killer. WWII was the killer of the airship.

Are there practical problems? Yes, of course. A lack of already existing infrastructure and the fact that they'd have to compete with already existing airlines. There are some issues inherent in airships. Same with airplanes. But most of those issues are solve-able. Should we build them? If someone can somehow not compete with airlines, and can afford to build the airships and supporting infrastructure, I won't stop them.

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3 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Twenty seven times the size of a 747. Carrying 70 passengers and 40 crew. But instead of a bunch of seats put in rows with aisles in-between, the Hindenburg (and the Graf Zeppelin II) was a luxury aircraft. You know those luxury cruise lines? It's that, but for the air. It was never intended to be an aircraft like the 747. It's much larger, of course. But it's sister ship has enough payload capacity (about 102,000 kg) to transport hundreds of people. It wouldn't be comfortable, but neither are 747s, usually. And you have to remember that this was the 1930s. Technology now compared to then is very different. You can't get around the size of the airship, of course, but you can get around having a large crew with better automation and you can lighten the structural mass with new materials.

Between 1910 and 1914, DELAG carried over 30,000 passengers on its Zeppelins, without injury. This was halted by WWI, of course. And, sadly, a similar tale would play out leading up to WWII. The worst airship disaster in history only killed 36. 583 died in the worst airplane disaster in history. Although planes are used much more often and carry more people, which would lead to a higher number of accidents and deaths...

What killed the airship wasn't the Hindenburg. Nor was it their lack of ability as a vehicle. Nor was it any inherent flaw in airships. What killed the airship was WWII. This war literally changed everything. Geopolitics, technology, methods of travel, and so on. But why did it kill airships? Well, airships weren't "dead" as they continued to exist, and still exist to the present day. But they were no longer used to fly passengers, at least for some time. Why? Well, in 1940 the LZ-127 and the Hindenburg-class LZ-130 were scrapped for parts for the war. Then, after the war, tens of thousands of leftover DC-10s/C-47s flooded the market for commercial transportation aircraft. With relatively cheap and abundant aircraft for airlines, and the massive degree of improvement as well as the invention of the jet engine around the time of WWII, airships died as a method of air transport. And it stayed that way. LZ-131 was under construction at the time the order to scrap the Zeppelin fleet was given. In the 1936 season, the Hindenburg made 17 round trips across the Atlantic. It carried almost 3000 passengers. Just one airship, just one year. Its lifetime was cut short by the Hindenburg disaster. An airship, designed for helium, forced to use hydrogen. Had it been designed for hydrogen, this disaster may not have ever occurred. The LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin (half the volume of the LZ-129), flew from 1928 to 1937 on hydrogen. It was the forced turnover to helium that hampered growth of the Zeppelin fleet afterwards, and forced the retirement of the LZ-127. All after a ship which was supposed to use helium used hydrogen instead. But the LZ-130 was still built, and the 131 was under construction. It was a setback, but not a killer. WWII was the killer of the airship.

Are there practical problems? Yes, of course. A lack of already existing infrastructure and the fact that they'd have to compete with already existing airlines. There are some issues inherent in airships. Same with airplanes. But most of those issues are solve-able. Should we build them? If someone can somehow not compete with airlines, and can afford to build the airships and supporting infrastructure, I won't stop them.

I agree with you that airships are pretty safe for passengers, it was an lot of accidents with them but quite possible this was sorted out around 1930. 
An crash is very survivable as impact speed is low and you have lot and lots of crumble zone. 

However around 1940 passenger planes capable of crossing the Atlantic at 400 km/h or more was under testing, Germany flew a few trips with them, US airliners had orders.
Planes would win because higher speed, people will pay for speed and the fast turnover was also important, if you wanted comfort or low cost you took the boats. 

WW2 stopped this and at the end it was a lot of plane infrastructure as you say however it would have happened anyway at least for long distance flights.
Airships might have worked out for shorter trips as they did not need runways and it would be less runways around.  

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12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Twenty seven times the size of a 747. Carrying 70 passengers and 40 crew. But instead of a bunch of seats put in rows with aisles in-between, the Hindenburg (and the Graf Zeppelin II) was a luxury aircraft. You know those luxury cruise lines? It's that, but for the air.

Yes, being so slow meant that airships can't be as mass-efficient for carrying passengers as airplanes.

12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

It was never intended to be an aircraft like the 747. It's much larger, of course. But it's sister ship has enough payload capacity (about 102,000 kg) to transport hundreds of people.

Actually, she only had ~60,000 kg of useful lift.

12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

It wouldn't be comfortable, but neither are 747s, usually. And you have to remember that this was the 1930s. Technology now compared to then is very different. You can't get around the size of the airship, of course, but you can get around having a large crew with better automation and you can lighten the structural mass with new materials.

Between 1910 and 1914, DELAG carried over 30,000 passengers on its Zeppelins, without injury.

Deutschland:  Crashed 28 June 1910, one injury.

The low number of injuries was more by luck than anything else, of the 7 airships they operated in that time:  2 crashed while carrying passengers and 2 caught fire.

12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

This was halted by WWI, of course. And, sadly, a similar tale would play out leading up to WWII. The worst airship disaster in history only killed 36. 583 died in the worst airplane disaster in history. Although planes are used much more often and carry more people, which would lead to a higher number of accidents and deaths...

What killed the airship wasn't the Hindenburg. Nor was it their lack of ability as a vehicle. Nor was it any inherent flaw in airships.

Except for the massive flaws that get pointed out _every_ time the latest "we'll build airships, they'll be great, give us money," scam rolls around.

12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

What killed the airship was WWII.

They were already on their way out by the time WWII involved any of the nations that used them.  The only reason Germany was still building them was for propaganda, (Luftschiffbau Zeppelin was not exactly making money and probably couldn't have built the Hindenburg without the influx of government cash via DZR).

Even without WWII, aircraft like the DC-4 and Lockheed Constellation would still have been coming into service and would still be something that the airships simply couldn't compete with, (they were already losing against smaller aircraft like the DC-3).

12 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Are there practical problems? Yes, of course. A lack of already existing infrastructure and the fact that they'd have to compete with already existing airlines. There are some issues inherent in airships. Same with airplanes. But most of those issues are solve-able. Should we build them? If someone can somehow not compete with airlines, and can afford to build the airships and supporting infrastructure, I won't stop them.

You can't solve the fact that airships are fuel hogs, (as much as a jet for the same cargo for a fraction of the speed).

You can't solve the fact that airships are slow.

You can't solve the fact that they are extremely weather sensitive.

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They have a niche market. If that niche market ever actually materializes, they can be useful

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Carrying 10 000 t in one piece is rarely needed.

For all other Musk will build hyperloop.

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On 4/3/2017 at 11:48 AM, Bill Phil said:

Twenty seven times the size of a 747. Carrying 70 passengers and 40 crew. But instead of a bunch of seats put in rows with aisles in-between, the Hindenburg (and the Graf Zeppelin II) was a luxury aircraft. You know those luxury cruise lines? It's that, but for the air. It was never intended to be an aircraft like the 747. It's much larger, of course. But it's sister ship has enough payload capacity (about 102,000 kg) to transport hundreds of people. It wouldn't be comfortable, but neither are 747s, usually.

With the way how airlines are cramming seats onto planes, I don't see how this works... niche market at best, but again, people have personal / bussiness jets for a reason.

Planes are not comfortable ? They still work (takeoff / land) in gales and gusts... your airship won't !

Also, the amount of payload an airship with certain lifting gas volume doesn't change, even in prehistory or the far future (unless we get vacuum floatships - those would be comparable to planes, but a tremendously bigger headache.)

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14 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Carrying 10 000 t in one piece is rarely needed.

For all other Musk will build hyperloop.

And you don't unload 10 000 tons in a field either. People tote the "unprepared terrain" argument for airships, but handling thousands of tons of cargo requires infrastructure, trucks, cranes, depots, and those things are going to need a prepared terrain anyway.

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10000 tons may be excessive, but a graded dirt field should suffice for a mining operation. Winching up a container or three from a mining dump truck or other off-road heavy truck shouldn't be too big of a problem. The equipment would have been blimped in in the first place. 

Hard-pack dirt is no problem. Muddy season is the problem

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1 hour ago, StrandedonEarth said:

10000 tons may be excessive, but a graded dirt field should suffice for a mining operation. Winching up a container or three from a mining dump truck or other off-road heavy truck shouldn't be too big of a problem. The equipment would have been blimped in in the first place. 

Chicken-and-egg.  You can't blimp in the heavy equipment until you've already prepared a graded field to blimp it into, which requires heavy equipment to prepare...  (You also require either very low winds or a fairly hefty mooring system.)   If it's grassy/tundra, you can bootstrap, but a forest or significantly rocky surface is an entirely different game.  And if you can get heavy equipment in to clear the field for a blimp, that just chips away at the justification for using a blimp in the first place.

That's the real problem with the niche market emerging...  remote enough that it makes sense to blimp in/out, yet hospitable enough that you can bootstrap.   That's not going to be a common combination.

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On 03/04/2017 at 2:14 PM, StrandedonEarth said:

They have a niche market. If that niche market ever actually materializes, they can be useful

As I mentioned earlier, that niche is _tiny_.

You need conditions where:

Airships would work.

You can't use airplanes.

The cargo is too heavy for a helicopter.

You can't use a boat.

You can't put in a road or wait for a seasonal road to open.

That first and last ones are real killers:  Most of the places where you can't use other transportation methods, airships also have serious issues due to weather or altitude and most of the places that airships really are the best choice for air transportation get their heavy stuff in on ice roads during the winter.

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For mining? Really? Rocks? Transported by air? Rocks? With Helium? *Rocks*?

Never happening!

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Posted (edited)

The last one who tried to build a huge airship for transportation went bankrupt. The hangar is now used as a leisure park ...

The airship never left the concept papers.

 

Edited by Green Baron

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4 hours ago, p1t1o said:

For mining? Really? Rocks? Transported by air? Rocks? With Helium? *Rocks*?

Does "mine and fry the lunar rocks to get 1 g of helium per 100 t of rocks" sound less funny?

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55 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Does "mine and fry the lunar rocks to get 1 g of helium per 100 t of rocks" sound less funny?

Yup.

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