A resurgence in the use of airships in markets ranging from defence and surveillance to advertising, tourism and heavy freight transport was predicted at an international convention last week organised by the Airship Association.
Sir John Walker, chairman of Bedford-based Airship Technologies, announced the formation of a separate firm to run tourist flights from London Docklands to Windsor. It would use the company’s AT04 airship, which is expected to fly this time next year and gain certification from the Civil Aviation Authority by the end of the year.
Walker said airships had advantages in many defence-related roles, including patrol use, early warning of missiles, mine clearance on land and sea, and anti-submarine missions. ‘Ten years ago the technology wasn’t there,’ he said. ‘It’s there now.’
Over 150 delegates converged on Bedford for the convention. Dick Chadburn, chairman of the Airship Association, said there are 38 airships operating in the world today, with advertising the main market. But with new aircraft being developed, the number is likely to rise significantly. significantly.