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Zeppelins could make a comeback with this solar-powered airship cargo mover

[2019.10.08, Tue 18:05] Zeppelins, the rigid airships most famously epitomized by the Hindenburg, now seem kind of retro, rather than the image of futurity they represented in the 1930s. They could be about to make a comeback in a big way - courtesy of a new aluminum-shelled, solar-powered airship that's being built by the U.K.-based company Varialift Airships. According to the company's CEO Alan Handley, the airship will be capable of making a transatlantic flight from the United Kingdom to the United States, consuming just 8% of the fuel of a regular airplane. While its lack of onboard battery would limit travel to daylight hours, and its speed will only be approximately half that of a Boeing 747, the Varialift airship does promise to be a useful cargo carrier. Because it is an airship, which lifts off more like a balloon than an airplane, the Varialift airship could also be useful in this capacity since it doesn't require a dedicated runway. "Variable lift airships will ultimately secure a significant percentage of the global air freight business, and a small, but still extremely valuable portion of existing road freight business, particularly for long distance, bulky or lightweight goods," the company claims on its website. Varialift hasn't yet begun construction on its production model.
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