Illustrated above, the SkyLugger was conceived as a dirigible Luffship type to develop for useful ad-hoc aerial crane lift and transport operations with up to 5 tonne under-slung payloads in a similar way to helicopters (but with much longer endurance) within the scope of existing airship commuter category certification rules – helping to minimise development costs. At ground level, the Ø50 m variable geometry lenticular aerostat is similar in elevation (viewed from the side) to an early SKS500 airship’s profile but, when moored, only occupies 25% of the ground area needed (due to fixation). In addition, it has a max geometric volume of 20,400 cu m compared with 5,130 cu m for the SKS500, so develops about 4 times the buoyancy, which is one of the reasons it will lift so much more. The payload and Luffship’s pod (the main module for crew, systems and equipment) are suspended from the aerostat by an external method that spreads load more evenly and simply than is possible for classic types, enabling operations without danger of breaking the aerostat’s back.
The arrangement was configured with 8 cycloidal propellers, 4 around the aerostat and 4 around the pod, all able to direct thrust in a horizontal or vertical direction up or down – so able to overcome significant differences between airborne weight and buoyancy, and to control flight. This is notional until test flights at full scale are undertaken to properly assess configuration matters and operating needs for the type. The pod also has underfloor ballast tanks sufficient for load exchange.
In addition, freight may be carried in a similar way using a lightweight container (as shown on the right-hand side of the enlarged pod view) for the purpose, picked up or set down wherever desired. The benefits are endurance, which helicopters could not attain, and scalability of the design to lift considerably more (factors > 10) not really possible for helicopters.
Costs and time to develop the design should be less than an equivalent helicopter. For further information, see the downloadable leaflet.
Click on a link at the top of the page to see further derived Luffships or on one of the following links to return to previous Derived, Lenticular, Omni-directional pages or the general Luffships page.