Globe and Mail: Why airships should replace jets for moving freight
The desire for financial efficiencies has long been a great driver of innovation. But, with global warming bringing the threat of super storms and rising seas (literally in some cases) to our doorsteps, it appears that environmental sustainability is providing equally powerful motivation to change.
That’s certainly the thinking behind University of Manitoba professor Barry Prentice’s latest research exploring the futuristic realm of airship technology.
His paper, Sustainable Transportation: Airships Versus Jet Airplanes, was presented at the recent Canadian Transportation Research Forum in Toronto.
Dr. Prentice, an expert in supply-chain management at the Winnipeg university’s Asper School of Business, and co-author Robert Knotts of the British-based Airship Association envisage a world in which giant, cigar-shaped aircraft, fuelled by methane or hydrogen, are used in place of traditional jets to transport goods and services around the world.
The authors argue that the shift to a lower- or zero-carbon emission transport system will significantly reduce greenhouse gasses and other dangerous pollutants that contribute to climate change.
“Without question, jet airplanes used for dedicated freight transportation are the most polluting segment of the aviation industry. These are typically the oldest and least fuel-efficient jetliners, but they are also the segment of air transport that might be replaced most easily,” the paper states.