Friday, July 31, 2009

Boeing Commits Airship Heavy Lift Design

This one snuck up on me. Bringing back the airship to provide heavy lift capability has been almost a no brainer once we entered the world of modern materials and design engineering.

The market niche that it tackles is not unlike the niche filled for the past decades by the de Haviland beaver which was launched back in the late forties with hopes for sales of perhaps a couple of hundred and went on to sell thousands. It became the general’s jeep in pre chopper days.

Heavy lift air ships have a natural market once you need to run a truck load past any road head. This is already thousands of trips supplying the diamond mines in the high Arctic. In fact, such a service can allow shipping there to return to just in time delivery and avoid the use of the ice roads.

Also during the past decade, this world has been massively explored for new mineral wealth and the need for cost effective infrastructure has exploded. This technology allows the necessary movement of heavy equipment.

Setting the obvious aside, moving a truck load of fresh food from California directly to the East coast with no mechanical vibration at a speed of around 70 mile per hour is a huge commercial improvement. You also can achieve point to point delivery rather easily from a parking lot or open field in California at the processor to a field beside the distributer in New York. This technology package makes this all plausible and economically feasible.

That means that if your local market can absorb a truck load of fresh mangos from Belize, it can be delivered as ripe fruit in possibly two days. I can even contemplate shipping raspberries to such markets and that is a product that wants to spoil in twenty four hours and is subject to severe damage from truck vibration. Now it is plausible to pick the fruit all day and pack a refer at the field until sunset, and then it can be lifted and transported almost a thousand miles to arrive fresh and undamaged at six in the morning.

Though we associate heavy lift with unique problems, the real market will be those we just described because they will sustain a huge fleet. In short, I predict that once the economics are shaken out to the levels able to easily move foodstuffs sensitive to spoilage at competitive rates, then Boeing will actually sell thousands. Remember how many trucks are today hauling perishables.

Another major market will be plucking stems out of the forests, possibly cabled together for tonnage. Since the operating costs should be a fraction of those of helicopters which mandates rapid turn around, the option immediately exists to grab a fifty ton log bundle and to carry it a few miles to a good road head. Again, each trip can pull out half a truck load or more out of the woods and your costs may not be particularly different from actual trucking so even a long haul may make sense.

All of a sudden you are not a complete slave to road costs or even having to design around road beds. You can cut a contoured belt and easily leave refuges for seed trees and then extract the wood with no particular sacrifice. You would still have to skid a bundle together on site, but not over any distance at all. Once you have assembled a forty to seventy ton bundle, it becomes more difficult to come back and grab wood on the edges and these naturally provide refuges.

This technology may make best forestry practice actually economically feasible here on the west Coast.



Boeing Completes Major Design Milestone For SkyHook Heavy Lift Vehicle

http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Boeing_Completes_Major_Design_Milestone_For_SkyHook_Heavy_Lift_Vehicle_999.html


SkyHook is designed to carry 80,000-pound (40-ton) sling loads up to 200 nautical miles without refueling - a capability that is not currently available, but is desired by several industries, including oil exploration and mining operations in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, as well as companies operating in remote locations in South America, Europe and Africa.

by Staff Writers
St Louis MO (SPX) Jul 29, 2009

Boeing and SkyHook International have announced that the design of the SkyHook Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) has reached the configuration freeze milestone, meaning the aircraft's overall performance and layout have been established.

Boeing and SkyHook have worked on the SkyHook HLV's structural and systems design and its concept of operations since July 2008, resulting in the following improvements:

+ the addition of a three-piece tail for enhanced maneuverability

+ integration of lifting and thrusting propulsion systems

+ improved aerodynamics for increased payload capacity and range.

"Boeing's Advanced Rotorcraft Systems team and our industry partner, SkyHook International Inc., are extremely pleased with the progress on the engineering of the aircraft," said Kenneth Laubsch, SkyHook program manager for Boeing.

"We all sense that we are part of something revolutionary in the advancement of this extraordinary technology, and the aerospace industry in general."

The next major program milestone will be Detailed Design in 2011, which centers on the design, analysis and specification of all hardware, software and related aircraft and ground support systems interfaces.

"The SkyHook HLV technology is like nothing that has ever existed. We anticipate that the operational capability of this aircraft will allow SkyHook's customers to radically change the way they resupply and operate in remote regions, especially the north," said Rob Mayfield, director of SkyHook.

"In the oil and gas industry, there are significant pressures on cost, speed, safety, and environmental impact, and the SkyHook HLV represents solutions to each of these challenges in various applications."

SkyHook is designed to carry 80,000-pound (40-ton) sling loads up to 200 nautical miles without refueling - a capability that is not currently available, but is desired by several industries, including oil exploration and mining operations in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, as well as companies operating in remote locations in South America, Europe and Africa.

Boeing is designing and will fabricate a production SkyHook HLV prototype at its Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Park, Pa. The new aircraft will enter commercial service after it is certified by transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The first SkyHook HLV aircraft is scheduled to fly in 2014.

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