Not much solid news has been heard from Russia in recent years, but it seems that the rich history of airship design dating back to the 1920s, and which continued consistently throughout the Cold War and on through to the present day is now bearing fruit. Two articles are presented in this edition: The first, from Augur Aeronautical Center, is an update on their ATLANT project; the other, by the Editor, is a photo feature, based on his recent visit to the AU-30 airship, near Moscow.
The ATLANT Airship Design An Update from Augur Aeronautical Center, Moscow
Michael Talesnikov Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Augur Aeronautical Center, Moscow
"Other countries enjoy long ocean coastline. Russia does not have much compared with its land size while at the same time it possesses a vast... coastline of its sky ocean. Russians thus find it easier to deal with this latter coastline. This very sky ocean along with the set-up of an engine system, popular and comfortable, is to make up the epoch
signifying modern history." D. Mendeleev
Atthe end of the twentieth century all leading aerostatic technology manufacturers could clearly see that the classic concept of airship building did not manage to comply with the requirements for lighter-than-air vehicles. The time had come to turn to the creation of hybrid aerostatic transport craft.
Airships today seem to have entered the revival stage. The vehicle that was once consigned to oblivion is now being extensively transformed into a high technology platform for an absolutely new usage. Airships are likely to cover a rather vast and important task. Their main objective is to carry cargo. Only modern airships are able to transport bulky odd-sized cargo to distant places as well as to the territories with underdevelopped infrastucture or even without it.
Two world leading manufacturers-Worldwide Aeros (USA) and Augur Aerostatic Systems CJSC (Russia) - managed to advance considerably in creating transporting, hybrid aerostatic vehicles. Despite the obvious similiarity of Aeroscraft (Aeros) and Atlant (Augur) projects they differ significantly. Aeroscraft set-up implies taking off and landing performed from the runaway strips prepared beforehand. Atlant, on the other hand, is designed to give up using aerodrome service as well as any infrastructure for aircraft transitory stops. Atlant series crafts are to conform to extremely high standards.
Russian designers managed to forecast the future for hybrid airship as early as in 2005. All the major scientific and research work was held in this direction. A couple of years ago the project came in sight of potential customers who then got interested in Atlant craft built by Russian airship constructors.
Atlant strikes a balance between the best qualities of an airship and separate elements of a plane, helicopter and air-cushion craft. This allows to get rid of traditional drawbacks of this means of transportation simultaneously preserving unique airship advantages -long-range distances, cargo capability, economic and ecological efficiency. This combined craft was created by a Russian company - Augur Aerostatic Systems CJSC.
Key technical solution of both companies is applying innovation system allowing to control the lift force of the craft without water or solid ballast on board.
The main problem to have been solved was ballasting. As far as the airship is carrying effective load, no problems appear. But as long as the cargo is taken off the platform, the light-weight airship obtains the buoyancy equal to the weight of the taken cargo. It can fly away if not held on to the ground. To avoid this, Russian designers have developed a special active buoyancy control system. So, now airships can easily stay on the ground or fly in any direction landing anywhere carrying huge cargo. Modern materials, technologies and original designer solutions allow building hybrid aerostatic crafts with basic advantages but without traditional airship drawbacks.
Moreover, rigid-type body and original solutions regarding its shape and set-up provide year-round non-ailing work of new generation airships and allow to give up feathering during the stay or avoid ground team tracking. Atlant craft is designed first and foremost for Siberia, the Far East and the Far North regions and it will be able to take off from or land on any surface including water, thin ice or
marshland, which is to make it essential in solving the following issues:
Carrying out unique transportation work in the regions with underdeveloped ground infrastructure or the ones lacking it;
- Providing reliable year-round supply to distant objects including those in the Arctic region.
Atlant craft, being a hybrid of a plane, helicopter, airship and air-cushion craft, is a breakthrough in airship building. At take-offs and landing it behaves as a helicopter, during the horizontal flight - as a plane and an airship. It is virtually a cargo airship equipped with modern technologies. The history has never seen anything like this before: transportation zeppelins carrying passengers over the Atlantic Ocean could merely seat passenger with suitcases. Special airshipdromes, the same size as airports, were built for them. Atlant crafts will be able to take off from any unequipped place, carry odd-sized and extremely heavy loads, people and appliances to distant regions of our country. Ideally the term 'deliveries of goods to the Northern Territories' will be replaced with regular supply to these regions.
Atlant craft, a hybrid air vehicle, allows to get rid of traditional drawbacks of a classical airship preserving unique airship advantages -long-range distances, cargo capability, economic and ecological efficiency.
Recently Russian, American and Canadian governments started to pay more attention to modern airship developments.
In summer 2012 Anchorage, Alaska hosted II Seminar - «Cargo airships for northern territories». The Forum was organized by Alaska State University, Fairbanks in cooperation with NASA Ames Research Center and ISO Polar Airships. Respectable and reputable air companies, such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, HAV, Northrop Grumman, Aeroscraft, participated in the discussion. Lesil McGuire, Alaska State Senator at that time, and Simon Worden, Director of NASA Ames Research Center, emphasized in their speeches the priority of this transportation development promising government support. The experts agreed upon the necessity to build hybrid-type airships.
The great noticed Atlant craft and in the end of 2012 the project won Skolkovo Fund grant. To carry out this project Augur Aerostatic Systems established a subsidiary - Experimental Design Bureau Atlant, which was called Skolkovo Fund resident. The project was examined by Fund profile experts and received the highest positive rate of the expert committee. At the first stage of project realization the government in the name of Skolkovo Fund is responsible for financing 75% expenses. At the final stage of testing and putting the craft into operation government participation will reduce to 25% with the rest finance coming through private investors.
Atlant crafts unique capacity will allow to create a
drastically new innovative transportation-logistics system which in its turn will make the development of minor and medium size natural resources fields economically beneficial, provide non-stop year-round supply to far regions and finally will enhance the development of Siberia, the Far East and the Far North. The project is about refusing extensive infrastructure development (like building railways, winter roads, etc.) as well as preserving ecological balance in the Far North regions and high economic effect due to decrease in net cost and timing of transportation. Experts believe that using a craft like this instead of traditional air means to carry cargo will save up to 50 tons of oil annually, while the atmosphere will hold over 100 tons of Oxygen.
Putting this kind of craft into operation will return Russia back in the line with world aircraft building leaders. The nearest future is all about true hybrid airship building boom with successful completion of this project being a major impulse to technology development.
Do we really need this development? We certainly do!
by Gregory Gottlieb Program Manager, PSATRI, Riyadh Editorial Committee Chairman, AIRSHIP & Council Member, The Airship Association
Ever since my brief interactions with the Soviet Army in the early 1980s in East Berlin, and encouraged by the then Airship Association Hon. Secretary, the late Mike Rentell - a fluent Russian speaker -1 have wanted to visit Moscow and to stand in Red Square.
The opportunity to do so finally came up in February of this year. The Prince Sultan Advanced Technology Research Institute (PSATRI), for which I am now the aerostat and airship 'expert', asked me to undertake a series of visits and meetings in Russia. My chance had come!
My first surprise came when the Russian Embassy in Riyadh (where I am not yet an official resident) was able to make an exception and issue me a visit visa in less than one hour. This was an impressive beaurocratic high-jump for a country not known for bypassing rules! So, having expressed my gratitude to the smiling official, I headed off to the airport.
The shock of going straight from +28°C to, initially, -10°C (it reached -18°C later...) should not be overlooked - especially as the warmest coat I could buy in Riyadh did little except add to the weight of my luggage! But enough of my rambling. If you're reading this it is to know more about Gennadiy Verba's superb airship, the AU-30.
During my three days in Russia, I spent half a day at the RosAeroSystems operating base at Kirzhach, approximately 100km to the North East of Moscow. The Company owns an airfield there on which they have constructed a purpose designed airship hangar, which houses the AU-30 which is currently operational, together with a variety of other parts and components, both for their fleet of airships and for their extensive range of production aerostats.
Kirzhach is a small town, close to a military airfield, which has the advantage of being just outside the municipal boundary of the Moscow Region. The design team are based in central Moscow (in offices that used to be part of the Yakolev Design Bureau) and the production department occupy facilities about an hour from the hangar site in a massive industrial complex at Peresvet that used to be Russia's 'Buran' Space Shuttle build and test facility.
Before heading out of Moscow, I did manage a few freezing minutes in Red Square, for which I am most grateful to my host, Michael Talesnikov, RosAeroSystems' VP of Sales and Marketing. Tick!
Armed only with my trusty iPhone 5s, I took quite a few pictures and videos of the AU-30, both from the ground and in flight. I hope you enjoy those I've presented here.
On the final evening Gennadiy took Michael and The Summer edition will be special:
It will include a full report on the 10th International Airship Convention and Exhibition, with pictures. It will also include a report on the forthcoming AGM.
It will return to having at least two technical papers (one of which will be the fifth in the series 'Luffman on Lift'), including extracts from some of the papers at the to be presented at the Friedrichshafen Convention.
I for a tremendous meal in a rooftop restaurant (thankfully, fully enclosed!) overlooking central Moscow. My first encounter with President Putin's Russia was complete. I'm now very much looking forward to my next visit.
In conclusion, I must thank Gennadiy Verba and Michael Talesnikov for their warm hospitality - and for giving me permission to publish this article. I would also like to thank Dr. Sami Alhumaidi, Managing Director of PSATRI, for having made the visit possible.
Gregory Gottlieb, Riyadh, 20th March 2015
One article that was bumped from this edition at the last minute by our paid advertisement will be an update on the global state of the Helium market by our former Chairman, Peter Ward.
Please do keep sending contributions - and don't forget to carry your copy of AIRSHIP with you when you travel: your challenge is to 'out-picture' our member, Pete Wallace in the "'Airship' Around the Globe" Competition. Good Luck!
Information from the site http://www.airship-association.org/cms/