Luffships Ltd (LSL) stems from LTA Solutions Ltd (LTA-S, UK Co No: 04702365, incorporated 2003) as a design services practice to help the beleaguered airship industry become successful with new ways to go, now integrated in LSL.
LTA-S began after CargoLifter (CL) closed (end July 2002) from seeing that expertise was needed to provide a lead for the introduction of new types with better characteristics that were not just 1940’s to 60’s technology upgraded with modern materials and systems.
In 2010, this led to the formation of Skylifter Ltd (UK Co No: 07140078) and agreements with LTA-S to develop its new buoyant aircraft types for that company, typically as illustrated above. However, it came to nought, leading in 2018 after name change to LTA-S taking over the 07140078 business as LSL in order to continue and develop LTA-S’s designs.
Skylifter Ltd today thus is a different business (UK Co No: 11266794, incorporated 2018), independent from LSL. LSL today therefore is the business continuing with the development of LTA-S’s designs!
To start with we drew up new LS-L5 arrangements; a small project now proceeding with new partners in Canada, intended to prove the technology and enable bigger types for serious duties. The design stems directly from LTA-S’s AeroRaft concept but with alternative methods for vertical dynamic lift not adopted before. When scaled up, this will enable the future serious aerial crane duties illustrated on the Introduction page.
Before LTA-S began, designs from the 1970’s perpetuated numerous handling and maintenance issues that should have been solved before (hindering industry growth). Even so, late 20th Century designs helped provide experience, knowledge and understanding essential for industry recovery. LSL today is supported by experienced principal team players from that era who know the foibles and issues to solve together with new ways to follow.
What people wanted at the turn of the century was airships able to work as aerial cranes as well as transport aircraft for seriously heavy outsized payloads point to point anywhere. However, it all went wrong from the presumption that traditional unidirectional (UD) airships arranged with multiple thrusters were suitable for such point to point work, where station and heading must be held reliably for the payload pick up and put down (pick&put) actions desired – difficult for UD types in turbulent weather that ground based cranes and helicopters normally do operate under.
The issues were not understood well enough by new businesses trying to establish such dirigible buoyant aircraft, where there were no specialists for them with long-term cradle to grave big airship expertise in their management team. However, there were numerous historians (often with entrenched opinions) and enthusiasts (many beguiled by past achievements) who in some cases invested large sums on huge UD types imprudently.
While CL failed, by enabling its CL75 AirCrane project to be built and tested, it showed the world that there was another way to follow stemming more simply from omni-directional (O-D) balloons. As illustrated above, this is the way that LSL has been pursuing for heavy lift point to point purposes, needing an accepted progressive way to develop properly.
The Airship Industry
For the airship industry to be successful in the 21st Century a progressive approach from the bottom up is needed. This calls for new types designed for operation and maintenance more efficiently without overt nursemaid tactics or a hangar from small grassed sites with a minimum of crew in weather that nonbuoyant aircraft generally manage. It’s not just a matter of robustness; rather, it’s a matter of capability, which takes time to work out.
Airship businesses therefore need to instil better technical nous, know-how and attitude befitting the aircraft industry (to which buoyant aircraft belong) to restore confidence in what has been a failing sector – evidenced by the very low number of airships flying today, just a handful. This can’t be achieved without team building, affordable projects to learn from and easier ways to follow with willingness to change.
It appears that a number of the relatively few people in the airship development sector find it hard to let go of established practices. However, they must embrace new ways to enable success! One of these is to learn how to re-establish things and grow in a natural way.
New airships and associated products must be affordable and cost effective in operation. They also must be safe and able to undertake their duties on a regular year round basis. Due to their great size and relative fragility, developers and operators thus must pay closer attention to weather issues and find ways that work effectively, which LSL is doing.
With modern forecasting and monitoring systems plus intelligent operation of new types configured to cope in difficult conditions, airships then should succeed.
By enabling operators to prosper, the industry also should find an easier route towards further bigger developments. These are LSL’s aspirations for Omni-directional (O-D) airships as an easier and better way to go!