- China has found a new way to transport cargo with large balloon-like ships
- China Aviation Industry General Aircraft company to build the airship starting in 2022
China is always on the lookout for new ways to transport goods in a cost-effective manner. Cargo airships may be the answer to delivering produce to remote locations that lack the necessary infrastructure to allow for planes and trucks.
State-owned China Aviation Industry General Aircraft company is working with French airship producer – Flying Whales – to produce the airship assembly line in Jingmen, China.
The airship will be propelled by two engines which will be able to carry 60 tons of cargo. The airship will be capable of staying airborne for 24 hours, with a range of about 1 000km.
Through creating delivery routes to hard-to-reach areas, the airships have the potential to open up land-locked areas to China’s economy. They will also be able to deliver heavy green energy infrastructure such as wind turbine blades, solar panels and batteries.
The airships will have a negligible impact on modern passenger aviation, as they will be manned by only three people. They are not intended for passenger transport, rather a low-carbon alternative to traditional cargo methods. The airships will provide an alternative way to provide economic assistance and investment through the Belt and Road Initiative, to developing regions in Africa and Asia that lack infrastructure.
The airships will be able to assist China in reaching their green goals by not only increasing the delivery of alternative renewable energy sources such as wind blades and solar panels, but also by making use of a transport option that uses 80-90% less emissions than airplanes. Airships produce fewer emissions and because they fly at low altitudes, they don’t produce heat-trapping particles. They will be pumped up with helium, which is much safer than hydrogen.
But, they are slower than traditional cargo airplanes, and their large size leaves them more vulnerable to adverse weather. However, they provide a cleaner solution to cargo transport, especially to regions that are difficult to reach.
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