The 2010 Blimp plane

Hat Tip to Al Fin, for spotting a very interesting blimp plane hybrid

The Luxury blimp plane hybrid, Aeroscraft ML866

While 70% of the aerodynamic lift comes from helium, the remaining 30% is derived from its innovative “wing” shape. As well as being able to hover the aircraft will be capable of speeds up to 138 mph (0-222 kmh) and will operate at altitudes of up to 12,000 ft (3,657 m). and the massive 210 ft (64 m) long by 118 ft (36 m) wide by 56 ft (17 m) high structure will deliver a roomy 5000+ square feet of cabin space.

Aeros displayed a 1/48th scale model at this year’s NBAA show and hopes to begin airframe static testing of the rigid composite structure within months, with flight testing at the San Bernadino International Airport to follow as early as 2010. An additional series of commercially focussed Aeroscraft is also on the drawing board and will be scaled to payloads of up to 60 tons.

No exact pricing details are available as yet but reports suggest the tag will be under $40 million.

Blimp plane executive floor plan

blimp plane commercial floor plan

60 ton payload blimp cargo plane

Blimp plane bouyancy control

blimp plane strong lightweight structure

Aeros is a world leading lighter-than-air, FAA-certified aircraft manufacturing company.

I looked more closely at the site and they have some interesting innovations. A composite structure for more strength and less weight and an interesting device for dynamic control of bouyancy.

It seems later versions of this type of craft would be helped by wing in ground effect lift.
1. Even lighter and stronger materials. Carbon nanotubes etc..
2. cheap thin film solar for power systems
3. The wing lift capability seems like it could be designed to take advantage of wing in ground effect lift.

The Russian Ekranoplane, WIG plane, could lift over 100 tons of cargo

WIG plane/boats need to be big to get the most efficiency. Height off the ground to still get the extra left is determined by the size of the wing. Since this is also large it seems like it is well suited.

Boeing Pelican, WIG concept. Boeing’s claimed that the Pelican would be capable of transporting 750 tons over 10,000 nm (18,530 km) when cruising in ground effect, but can carry the same load only 6,500 nm (12,045 km) when out of ground effect. The Pelican, the 500 ft (153 m) span vehicle would carry up to 2,800,000 lb (1,270,060 kg) of cargo while cruising as low as 20 ft (6 m) over water or up to 20,000 ft (6,100 m) over land. Unlike the Soviet concepts, the Pelican would not operate from water, but from conventional runways using a series of 76 wheels as landing gear.

Although the really big WIG vehicles designed to haul 5,000 tons would probably then swamp the blimp lifting effect. But vehicles with 60-2000 tons of lift seem like they would benefit from taking advantage of blimp lift, wing and wing in ground effect.