Travelling by plane creates lots of carbon dioxide, the main gas that is causing global warming. But as we all try to cut our “carbon footprint”, finding a way to travel long distances quickly without burning so much fuel is proving a real headache.
You may remember our story from February about Valery and his electric plane. That’s one solution – replacing engines that burn oil with electric motors running on batteries charged by wind turbines or solar panels.
Another company in England has announced plans to start using a different solution. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) will offer airships to carry up to 100 passengers at a time on trips of 200 to 300 kilometres between cities .
An airship is a type of aircraft that was quite popular around 100 years ago. Among the most famous airships were the Zeppelins, made in Germany. But the idea hasn’t been used much in recent times.
HAV’s airship is a little like a balloon, filled with helium gas. Helium is lighter than air. That helps the airship – sometimes called a “blimp” or a “dirigible” – float upwards. But unlike a balloon it also has engines to drive it along, like a plane or a helicopter. But because of the helium, it takes a lot less fuel (or electricity) to get it up in the sky.
HAV announced plans to start flying its Airlander airships on routes like Barcelona to the island of Majorca in Spain and between England and Ireland by 2025. It hopes to offer zero-carbon flights within 10 years, using electric motors.
Take a look at the 100-seat cabins they propose below. Airship travel is slower and smoother than a plane. But because they don’t need an airport runway, they can take you right to the city centre.