December 4 - US Congressman, Mike Honda, has come out in support of the Aeroscraft and its disaster relief capabilities, in light of the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines almost two weeks ago.
The Aeroscraft - developed by Aeros Corporation - is a buoyant rigid airship that can handle heavy cargoes, and is able to land on unprepared surfaces in remote locations because of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability.
While reiterating the US's pledge to help the Filipinos affected by typhoon Yolanda, Honda described the research that the US government and Aeros Corporation are conducting on the Aeroscraft: "It looks like a blimp (an old time dirigible). They design them so you can put material inside and carry a big load. It will be slow but it will get to the (disaster area) faster than you can get a ship there and more supplies than a helicopter can drop off.
"Aeroscraft can deliver in large bulks so they can take care of a large population at least within the first 35 to 48 hours. Because that's when people die, when you don't respond appropriately. You can even build inventory on an annual basis."
Aeros Corporation plans to have its first initial fleet of 22 craft operational by 2016 in two different classes: a 66-tonne capacity ML866 with a range of 3,100 nautical miles; and a 250-tonne ML868 with a range of 6,000 nautical miles. The craft will be available on an ACMI basis.
The Aeroscraft's ability to move large and heavy cargoes to areas where infrastructure is lacking - or non-existent - is potentially opening up new markets for the heavy lift and project cargo community. At the end of November, HLPFI reported that Aeroscraft established a strategic partnership with airline Icelandair Cargo (IAC) to develop new logistical air freight routes through the Arctic Circle.