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Who, me? [userpic]

Cruise airship

February 15th, 2006 (09:59 am)
current mood: intrigued

Seen at Popular Science (via reddit): a flying cruise ship, an airship under development large enough to carry 400 tons. It'd take about 18 hours to cross the US, but it'd be quiet, it wouldn't need runways, and it'd have to space to provide cruise-ship-like amenities. Oh, and it'd fly low enough (8,000 feet), and slowly enough (174 mph), that you could actually get a good look at the scenery. Prototype expected in 2010.

Comments

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
Pastafarian

Wanna go! Wanna! Wanna!

Posted by: Pat Siobhan (patsmor)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
night-angel

Me too! I've always regretted not being able to fly on a Zeppelin (no hydrogen, tho). Wonder if we can buy tickets in advance on spec?

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

I'd go on a zepplin if it didn't have the flammable coating!

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
Flammable coating

Remember, the flammable coating wasn't the problem; and hydrogen wasn't the problem. The problem was putting them together—the Hindenberg was built to fly with helium.

Posted by: Pat Siobhan (patsmor)
Posted at: February 16th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: Flammable coating

I do know that, which is why I said no hydrogen. One of the specials I saw said that the fabric was probably the best tech for the day, when used as specified.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:25 pm (UTC)
Me, too

I love the idea. Airlines would have to be clever about scheduling to make that 18-hour flight tolerable, but it could be done. With onboard entertainment (restaurant, movies, nightclub), and decent beds, they could set up a package where you get on in Boston at, say, 6PM, eat dinner, have some fun, go to bed as you're passing Chicago (wave at the Sears Tower, everybody!), wake up over Denver, go to breakfast, and watch the West go by (the Rockies would be close) until you get into San Francisco at noon.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

It'd be faster than the train, and people still take the train.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

True. But train delays are so random, someone crossing the country on the train knows they're rolling the dice on whether they'll arrive at noon or midnight. On this airship, they'd be planning ahead. If you had a flight that left at 9AM, it'd get in at 3AM (your body time), which means dragging yourself out of bed and to your hotel. So scheduling the flights to accomodate a full night's sleep on board becomes important.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

Oops--9:00, not noon. Time change.

Posted by: Alexx Kay (alexx_kay)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

Airlines would have to be clever about scheduling to make that 18-hour flight tolerable

One feature that they could sell would probably be greatly reduced jet-lag.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

Ooh, yeah. And maybe theme flights—jazz at the nightclub, LAN party...hey! 18 hours is enough to show all the Star Wars movies!

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too
Quickbeam

I sure hope it won't be much more expensive than a plane ticket.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

Depends how they want to model it. The entertainment packages could be an optional charge.

Posted by: Alexx Kay (alexx_kay)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

If the transport includes the equivalent of an overnight hotel stay, that's something of significant value.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

That's what you get with a berth in a train, too, and they don't sell that many of those, though.

however, not having to change vehicles would be a big plus.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 15th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Me, too

The thing to remember is that, on a train, or a plane, space is heavily constrained. On an airship, empty space could turn out to be nearly free. After all, any given volume of open air doesn't impair the ship's buoyancy (the ship isn't pressurized, so the air inside weighs the same as the air outside), so it doesn't cost anything to lift; the only energy cost will be in accelerating it forward. So a berth on an airship could be, say, the size of a small room, rather than the size of a closet. With a foldaway bed, and a foldaway table, it could turn into a reasonable little office in the daytime.

Oh, and an airship could have better connectivity (voice and Net) than either a train or a plane. A plane moves too fast, and too high, to keep contact with ground-based cellular systems; planes need specialized satellite services. A train could carry simpler equipment, but Amtrak just can't afford it. An airship couldn't afford not to have it; it's too essential to the entertainment side of the business.

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