French architect Jean-Marie Massaud is working on an ambitious solution to the problem of increased prices of plane fuel and the carbon dioxide pollution resultant of flying. And his solution is beautiful, if unlikely-sounding.
Though the logistics of building his magical whale-shaped wind-riding zeppelin, named the Manned Cloud, are not clearly defined, the New York Times reports that the necessary technology for the floating airship is underway elsewhere and has been for a while.
But not all projects are as fanciful as Mr. Massaud’s. For example, a French technology start-up, Aerospace Adour Technologies, is working with the French post office to study the feasibility of transporting parcels by dirigible. Also in France, Theolia, a company specializing in renewable energy, is financing a dirigible, and plans a test flight across the Atlantic.
In Germany, Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, the successor to the operator of the Hindenburg, has had success with a new generation of airship it uses to transport sightseers and scientific payloads.
The trend is not entirely new. Zeppelin-Reederei carried 12,000 passengers on sightseeing tours over southern Germany last year. Aerophile, a French company that revived tethered balloons, which compete with dirigibles as carriers of passengers, advertising and scientific instruments, was founded by two young French engineers in 1993.
There is question about the economic sense and practical possibility of widened airship implementation, and critics of the machines’ dependability. But, Massaud believes, those questions will be answered as the environmental and oil crises worsen.
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