March 6 - A Cargo Airship Caucus has been created in the US House of Representatives to encourage the development of these potentially revolutionary aircraft for military and civilian use.
Airships currently under development in the USA have the potential to carry large cargo payloads over long distances, at a fraction of the cost of fixed-wing aircraft, and can reach some of the most remote locations inaccessible for maritime traffic and traditional aircraft. Airships require far less infrastructure on the ground and can therefore land and unload cargoes much closer to their final destination.
Moreover, the transport of cargoes weighing several hundred tonnes is possible with advanced airships currently under development (such as the Aeroscraft) with travel at speeds many times that of ocean-going vessels.
From a military standpoint, cargoes could be delivered to remote locations faster than traditional multimodal shipments, while eliminating many of the risks - such as casualties and disruptions - which accompany the need to truck cargo overland after arrival at the sea and air ports.
"Modern cargo airships have nearly three times the fuel efficiency as air transport alternatives, and can land in very remote locations," said Congressman Brad Sherman. "They have enormous potential to enable economic development opportunities and accelerate export logistics, expand US capabilities in disaster relief response, and drive greenhouse gas reductions in aviation."
Congressman Tom Rooney added: "The recent advances in airship technology are exciting, and the Caucus will help illustrate the breadth of benefits enabled by cargo airships' efficient and infrastructure independent operations, including benefits to military operational tempo and mission flexibility, enhanced delivery capability, and operational cost savings."
The successful development of these aircraft will also have benefits for humanitarian efforts, as earthquakes and storms that create such catastrophes often devastate the very infrastructure, such as ports and airports, needed to deliver critical supplies.
Airships also have applications for energy projects that require delivery of large equipment, such as wind farms; and often the most efficient wind farm locations are on ridges far from any ground transportation facilities.
Congressmen Rooney and Sherman are beginning the process of recruiting additional members to join the Caucus and are planning the first meeting, which will introduce members to the recent advancements in airship development.