VEHICLECONCEPTS AND TECHNOLOGYREQUIREMENTSFOR BUOYANT
ArdemaAmes Research Center
Several buoyant-vehicle (airship) concepts proposed for short hauls of heavy payloads are described. Numer-
studies have identified operating cost and payload capacity advantages relative to existing or proposedheavy-lift helicopters for such vehicles. Applications mvolving payloads of from
tons havebeen identified. The buoyant quad-rotor concept is discussed in detail, including the history
its development,current estimates of performance and economics, currently perceived technology requirements, and recentresearch and technology development. It is concluded that the buoyant quad-rotor, and possibly other buoyantvehicle concepts, has the potential of satisfying the market for very heavy vertical lift but that additionalresearch and technology development are necessary. Because of uncertainties in analytical prediction methodsand small-scale experimental measurements, there is
strong need for large or full-scale experiments in groundtest facilities and, ultimately, with
flight research vehicle.
Feasibility studies of modern airships (refs. 1-18)and other studies (refs. 19-27) have determined thatmodern air-buoyant vehicles (airships) could satisfythe need for air transport of heavy
outsized pay-loads over short distances.There are two reasons that such aircraft, calledheavy-lift airships (HLAs), appear attractive for bothcivil and military heavy-lift applications. First, buoy-ant lift does not lead to inherent limitations on pay-load apacity as does dynamic ift. Large conven-tional dynamic-lift vehicles, including rotorcraft, tendto follow a “square-cube aw” in that lift increaseswith the square of the vehicle’s principal dimension,while empty weight increases with the cube, notwith-standing the effect of fixed-weight items. This meansthat he vehicle’s structural weight increases fasterthan the gross weight as size is increased; thus, as thesize is increased, the percentage of the total weightavailable for useful load decreases. On the other hand,buoyant-lift aircraft tend to follow a “cube-cube law”and thus have approximately he same efficiency atall sizes.Figure
shows the history of rotorcraft vertical-lift capability. Current maximum ayload of freeworld vehicles is about
tons. Listed in the figureare several payload candidates for airborne verticallift that are beyond this 18-ton payload weight limit,indicating a marketor increased lift capability.Extension of rotorcraft lift toa35-ton payload ispossible with existing technology (refs. 28, 29), andfuture development of conventional rotorcraft
toa 75-ton payload appears feasible (ref. 29). With HLAconcepts, however,ayioadapability of up to
INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENTAND CONSTRUCTIONMAIN BATTLE TANKCRANE, SHOVEL
Potential heavy-lift payloads.