In July 2002 Boeing and CargoLifter AG signed a contract to jointly explore stratospheric airship concepts. The contract, which provides for a detailed study of lighter-than-air stratospheric platforms, will enable Boeing and CargoLifter to coordinate efforts to bid as airship system suppliers for current and future programs.
CargoLifter has the capability and expertise for lighter-than-air platform development, and we are excited to work with them. Several governments have research and development activities focused on stratospheric platforms to support communications and surveillance requirements. Airships may be a suitable platform for such applications. The new restructured CargoLifter is able to use its extensive knowledge of lighter-than-air platform development to assist Boeing in establishing a lead position in the stratospheric airship market - a market that is set to grow significantly over the next decade. Boeing and CargoLifter currently are taking the first steps to put together their team. The contract follows a Letter of Intent signed by the two companies in May 2002.
CargoLifter AG, based south of Berlin in Germany, is developing lighter-than-air systems for logistics and other applications. Listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, CargoLifter AG has developed a unique capability to research, design, develop and produce airships and other lighter-than-air vehicles. CargoLifter is cooperating with a number of partners and potential users to further define and develop both markets and products.
The CargoLifter gains lift through the use of helium gas. One cubic meter of helium can carry about one kilogram. The weight of the cargo is compensated for by the lift of the gas. Therefore, energy is only spent on the airship's forward propulsion. An airplane which is heavier than air requires energy for both propulsion as well as for creating lift. The CargoLifter stays in the air even when the engines are turned off. CargoLifter, in other words, is a ship with the air as its ocean. The basic concept behind CargoLifter rests on proven technology while at the same time taking advantage of technological progress by the use of the most modern materials available.
The company's first product, the CL75 balloon-based system, has been in prototype flight test since October 2001. It will be capable of carrying an 86-short-ton-payload in either a crane configuration or as a towed vehicle. CL75 AC will be ready for commercial use in 2002/2003.
CargoLifter is also pursuing the CL160 airship, which is capable of carrying outsized and heavy goods over long distances. The CL160 Airship is 260 meters in length and is designed to carry oversized cargo weighing up to 160 metric tons, at a maximum height of 2,000 meters, non-stop over a range of several thousand kilometers. Each airship is powered by eight CT7-8L turboshaft engines. The first prototype of CL160 is planned to take off the ground in 2003 and its serial production should start in 2004/2005. The expected cost of building one CL160 is about USD 60 million, which is roughly half the cost of a Boeing 747. That is why CargoLifter has found its investors among many transport companies and industrial customers round the world.
The CL 160 is being constructed as a semi-rigid keel airship with a working heavy-load crane integrated inside the keel. Helium is used as a non-flammable lifting gas. Due to its unique crane construction, the CargoLifter can load and unload without landing. While the airship hovers approx. 100 meters in midair, the load will be lifted and lowered via anchor winches and four anchoring points. And in order for the total weight and flight characteristics of the airship to remain constant, the freight will be exchanged with ballast water. CargoLifter reverts to approved solutions and existing know-how in its development and yet it is still treading new ground. New materials, technologies, machinery as well as construction and manufacturing processes are turning the »flying cigar« of old into a modern high-tech means of transportation.
GE Aircraft Engines (GEAE) has signed a contract in October 2001 with CargoLifter Development GmbH in Brand, Germany, to power a fleet of new airships now under development in Germany. Under terms of the contract, GE will supply up to 400 CT7-8L installed engines and spares, as well as maintenance services for 10 years, at a potential value of $500 million. The CT7-8 engine was co-developed and will be co-produced by GE Aircraft Engines and Fiat Avio of Italy.
Following heated competition among engine suppliers, CargoLifter selected the CT7-8L turboshaft engine to power the CL160 Airships. The first deliveries of the CT7-8 engines to CargoLifter are expected to begin in 2003, followed by the first flight of the CL160 prototype in 2004. CargoLifter anticipates Airship production to continue beyond this decade.
The CT7-8 engine, recently certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is a derivative of GEAE's successful T700/CT7 family of turboprop and turboshaft engines, which power 25 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in service with 133 customers in more than 57 countries. The CT7-8 engine is expected to receive certification from the E.U. Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) in 2002, and military qualification is on track for 2003. The same engine type is currently used on the S-92/H92 and NH90 helicopters.
|Loading platform||50 x 8 x 8m|
|Payload||Up to 160t|
|Type||8 x GE CT7-8L turboshaft|
|Range||Up to 10,000km|
|Pressure height||Up to 2,000m|
|Buoyant gas||Non-flammable helium|
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