Market Potential for Transport Airships in Service to Hong Kong

By: Professor Barry E. Prentice and Yui-yip Lau


The airplane carriage of international trade, based on complex supply chains and competition between hub-and-spoke transport operations, has developed steadily over the past 70 years into a mature industry. All this could be subject to disruption by aerospace technology advances that are leading to the development of transport airships. The emergence of transport airships has the potential to create fundamental changes in trans-oceanic freight transport markets, geographical coverage and world trade patterns. This paper explores the current state of the Hong Kong airfreight industry and examines how transport airships could influence the future of Hong Kong aviation services.

A new conceptual model, the value-density cargo pyramid, is developed to conduct comparative analysis among dedicated cargo airplanes, sea-air logistics, sea containers and transport airships, notably in the busy trade corridors between Hong Kong and Europe, and Hong Kong and North America. Based on reasonable assumptions, transport airships could capture up to half of the existing “dedicated cargo aircraft” capacity. The race is on to create this new transportation mode and the first-movers will have an advantage. This paper provides valuable insights on an immense opportunity that awaits Asian shippers and could take Hong Kong and all of Asia to a new higher level of development and economic prosperity.

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Commitment to Sustainability

By: Barry E. Prentice, PhD, President, Buoyant Aircraft Systems International


The transportation sector is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Although strenuous efforts have been to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emission, other sectors of the economy find it easier than transport to reduce the use of carbon fuels, for example by increasing building insulation. Transportation in general has a problem because vehicles are limited in size by engineering and infrastructure. The larger the fuel tank, the less space remains to carry cargo or passengers. The only economic fuel alternatives are portable high energy density energy sources, like kerosene and gasoline. With economic growth, the share of GHG emissions created by transportation is likely to rise.

As the world economy expands, the absolute growth of transportation-related GHG emissions can be expected to increase, even with technological advance. The current consumption of fuel by the global airlines is about 5 million barrels per day. In a recent article, Grote, Williams and Preston reach a gloomy conclusion about the future of aviation’s contribution to climate change. “If all mitigation-measures [for air travel] are successfully implemented, it is still likely that traffic growth-rates will continue to out-pace emissions reduction-rates.” Only a dramatic change in technology, like the use of airships can reduce the carbon emissions of air traffic.

Airships have yet to be embraced as a solution to increasing air transport pollution, but the argument is easily made technically…

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Economics of Transport Airships for Food Distribution to Isolated Communities

By: Dr. Barry E. Prentice and Matthew Adaman, M.Sc


About 70 percent Canada’s landmass lacks access to all-season road infrastructure. As a result, northern Canada must depend on transportation systems that are high-cost, unreliable, and with service levels that vary seasonally. The lack of low-cost, reliable freight transport service year-round imposes myriad negative impacts on the residents of these regions. For example, the cost of food in the remote communities is 2.5 to 3 times higher than the cost of food in the urban areas of Canada. Airships have been advanced as a potential solution to the high cost of transporting food and the general food insecurity of aboriginal communities in northern Canada (Council of Canadian Academies, 2014).

This paper assesses the potential for a transport airship to reduce the costs of food transportation to isolated communities in northern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. The analysis is based on the operations of the North West Company’s (NWC) grocery distribution system. The logistics costs for a proposed 50-tonne lift transport airship are compared to the costs of using ice road trucking and small airplanes to deliver food and general merchandise…

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Tenth International Airship Convention & Exhibition 2015

The 10th International Airship Convention and Exhibition will be an important gathering of airship experts, designers, operators, students and enthusiasts from around the world.

In partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DGLR) the Airship Association will hold the 10th Biennial International Airship Convention & Exhibition in conjunction with Aero Friedrichshafen from 16th to 18th April 2015 in Friedrichshafen (Convention fees include the ticket for Aero 2015). Starting with a reception on the evening of Thursday the 16th April, to be held in the Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH hangar, surrounded by NT-07 airships, a program comprising two full days of papers with a model airship regatta will follow.

Dr.Barry Prentice of Isopolar Airships will be presenting his paper, ‘Economics of Transport Airships for Food Distribution to Isolated Communities in Northern Manitoba and Ontario, Canada‘.

For further information, please click here.

NASA Seeks Comments on Possible Airship Challenge

Published by Jet Propulsion Laboratory on November 25th, 2014:

“NASA is considering issuing a challenge for developing stratospheric airships that can break records in terms of duration of flight at high altitudes. The agency has issued a request for information for this contemplated “20-20-20 Airship Challenge.” Submissions will be accepted until December 1.” By Elizabeth Landau/Preston Dyches

Click here to read this article.