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B07 - Airship activity and development world-wide - 2002

This overview of the current development of the modern airship confirms that, by using the latest materials and manufacturing techniques, airships have improved considerably since the first generation of the pre-1970s.

The last thirty years have seen the increasing use of airships for such tasks as aerial advertising and film and TV coverage of sporting events. They have also been used for scientific research, monitoring, surveillance purposes and de-mining experiments. Various government agencies have carried out assessments including trials by the police, coastguard and military.

New designs being proposed by companies in Europe and the USA are focusing on heavy-lift airships of various types capable of carrying some 160 tonnes of freight or more. However some companies are now experiencing financial difficulties. The use of high-altitude, 20 – 25 km, unmanned telecommunication airships is being considered in a number of countries and small unmanned remotely piloted airships are proving useful for a range of tasks

Some local passenger flight operations have also taken place in Japan, Europe and the USA using today’s small airships. Currently three companies are operating fare-paying passenger flights in Germany and in Switzerland and another company plans to start in the USA shortly.

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