Researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, have completed a three-year study of stratospheric passenger airships designed to provide a future sustainable air transport network. The Multibody Advanced Airship for Transport (MAAT) project aims to position airships as the solution for future air transportation that is safe, efficient, cheap, and environmentally friendly.
The MAAT project envisages the design of a cruiser that can travel across the globe on a set route. Smaller feeder ships carrying people and goods would then be able to dock onto the cruiser while it is still moving. The primary energy source is through harvesting sunlight from photovoltaic arrays mounted on the upper airship surface to provide sufficient electric power during the day to operate the airship’s systems, and provide life support, propulsion, and control, while also producing sufficient excess energy that can be stored to facilitate continuous MAAT operation at night.
MAAT would present lower costs of transportation than any other current transport system, as it does not require fueling, and its vertical takeoffs would reduce delivery times and free up runway space. MAAT is not intended to replace conventional aircraft or other forms of transport, but could provide a much needed alternative that does not require the large infrastructure investments typical of new airports, railways, and roads.