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Airships and Drones - Pie in the Sky?

Published Jun 24, 2015

Airships and Drones - Pie in the Sky?

You cannot open a freight publication without the latest news about drones, now airships have joined the ranks of aircraft unlikely to make any impact on the freight industry. It isn't that they wouldn't be good in certain situations, but drones and airships, at least in their proposed forms, have limited use in the freight markets that exist at the moment. Cargo has long been seen as the poor relation to passengers and the space allotted to cargo is very often limited by the number of passengers and the baggage they carry, but cargo does provide extra revenue to airlines who would be operating the flights if there was cargo on them or not.

When you have been in the industry as long as I have, you see trends and ideas come in and out of fashion. Airships are one of the ideas that has been mentioned several times over the last 30 years and has yet not had any success for any large scale commercial use. There are a few different airships either in development or on the drawing board at the moment, with cargo capacities listed at 10 tonnes to 20 tonnes. They are quoted as being slower than conventional aircraft, but faster than sea and road transport. Only time will tell if this is a selling point.

Both airships and drones are pushing the use in remote areas and maybe if they gain a foothold in these areas they can slowly push into the more mainstream freight arena. We welcome new environmental ways of transporting cargo and would be among the first to make a booking on these services if we felt they would be of benefit to our customers. Only time will tell.

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