Semi-rigid airships and blimps
There are two kinds of airship in use today, semi-rigid airships and blimps. Semi-rigid airships, like the Zeppelin NT, have a backbone structure to which are attached the nacelle/gondola and the envelope. A blimp is simply a gas envelope with a nacelle slung underneath; its shape is maintained by the outward pressure of the gas inside.
Built in Russia
Our airship is a blimp, built in Moscow by the Russian company RosAeroSystem. It is the third in a new series of Au 30 airships. The first two in the series are used for surveillance of high-tension lines in Russia and the fourth will be used to monitor traffic conditions in Moscow.
Our airship is 55 m long, 17.5 m high and 14 m wide. Its envelope is filled with 5,000 m3 of helium. The airship has a payload of 1,500 kg, including fuel (800 litres), the crew (pilot, co-pilot and two scientists) and measuring devices (150 kg). The airship is driven by two 170-hp propeller engines.
Assembly and training flights
The airship's nacelle and envelope will be assembled in the Boussirons hangar at Marseille-Marignane airport. Acceptance flights, pilot training courses and training flights will be organised between September 2007 and March 2008.