Thread: Why Dirigibles?
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Old 05-13-2018, 02:32 PM   #46
Phoenix_Dragon's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Why Dirigibles?

Originally Posted by tanksoldier View Post
Especially since jets airliners have ended the use of trains and ships.
Jet airliners serve a different niche than trains and ships: high-speed transport of small cargos.

There have been a good number of attempts to create modern lighter-than-air craft, pretty much continuously since they fell out of use. The problem is, they're out-competed in every role. The largest airships might compete with heavy-lift cargo airplanes for how much they can carry, but they do it much more slowly and are harder to load and unload, so they're not good for express cargo. They're faster than trains or ships, but carry a tiny fraction of the cargo, and are more expensive to operate per ton/mile, so they're not good for bulk cargo.

They even require specialized facilities for proper operation (At the very least you need some way of mooring them in place while you lift cargo up to it), which makes them less useful in poorly developed areas than, say, cargo helicopters that can load and unload in a bare field, while also being poorer at precise station keeping (They are slower to react to changes in wind direction than a helicopter).

Tourist sight-seeing is about the best you can hope for, and they're already doing that. It's just that there isn't much of a market for it, and it's in competition with airplane and helicopter tours.

So yes, for dirigibles to become useful, you have to hobble its competition. The only nitpick I'd give is that it doesn't have to be the heavier-than-air travel that gets hobbled, it's just that that's the one that makes the most sense. Hobbling trains and/or ships might give you a niche, too. But something has to give.
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