A French company named Euro Airship is on a mission to tell the world that rigid airships are not only safe but also the future of emission-free air travel. To prove its point, the company is planning to embark on a non-stop journey circumnavigating the world, covering over 24,000 miles without any fuel stops in just 20 days. Sounds like the plot of a sci-fi novel, right? But, believe it or not, Euro Airship is dead serious about it. To complete this remarkable task, the company is currently developing a state-of-the-art rigid airship Solar Airship One in France which is being touted as a jewel of technology, energy, efficiency, and safety. In case you don’t what a rigid airship is, it’s a type of airship that features a giant envelope supported by an internal framework and is filled with lighting gas like helium. The era of rigid airships had come to an abrupt end because of the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster.
The whale-shaped Solar Airship One plans to fly around more than 25 countries for 20 days without stopping using a hybrid powertrain fueled by solar power and hydrogen. The aircraft will complete the journey flying at an average altitude of 19,685 feet. According to Euro Airship, the Solar Airship One will feature 15 separate gas envelopes that will be managed individually by software, providing the airship with faster maneuverability in different conditions.
While the helium-filled aircraft would normally have a range of about 540 nautical miles, the Airship One’s solar film incorporated into the top half of the envelope will recharge the batteries and power the propellers during the day. At night, the powertrain will switch to Hydrogen fuel cells for non-stop operation.
The construction of the Solar Airship One will begin by next year and the final assembly has been planned to be completed by 2025. If everything goes according to plan, the company will be able to set out on a non-stop journey across the world sometime in 2026. Following the tour, Euro Airship intends to go after full-type certification based on the technology proven on the mission. While the Solar Airship One will be built as a demonstrator, Euro Airship plans to introduce three different models that will be sold in different sizes, to suit a variety of purposes, including military and civilian.