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Air travel in the carfree city

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  • Simon Baddeley
    ... aviation ... the ... This is the sort of thing I was suggesting we should be giving serious attention to as a component of the carfree city, but how
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2000
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      >I don't know whether Simon thought about the recreational sphere of
      >or whether he was thinking primarily of the jets. I hope he forgot about
      >people in every city for whom flight is something you do not for transport,
      >but for the sheer enjoyment of it.

      This is the sort of thing I was suggesting we should be giving serious
      attention to as a component of the carfree city, but how unfortunate that
      the news story about the prototype for a gigantic airship the length of four
      Jumbo jets due to be unveiled tomorrow is described as "capable of carrying
      880 cars from London to New York in three days"!


      Wednesday June 28

      It is also suggested that this "giant airship could end famine". The 100mph
      craft, SkyCat 1000, designed by British engineers, will use hovercraft
      technology to enable it to land anywhere, even on water, without the need
      for a ground crew. In the days of the Graf Zeppelin more than 200 people
      were needed on the ground to bring it down. Now Aircraft Technologies Group
      is launching SkyCat's 50ft baby, SkyKitten, at Cardington in Bedfordshire,
      the home of the ill-fated R101 airship which crashed in France in 1928 with
      the loss of 40 lives.
      Its designer says "SkyCat 1000 is basically a heavy lift platform that can
      be used for a whole stack of purposes. It is a transport system that's
      between slow-but-cheap shipping and fast-but-expensive jet aircraft.

      "The fact it can land on any terrain of water or marsh makes it particularly
      flexible. In aid situations, with a 1,000-tonne payload, you could literally
      stop a famine in one go. That's a pretty powerful change in transport
      logistics. It has the same operating costs in tonne-miles as a lorry but
      when you take into account the logistic costs it's a lot cheaper.

      "It would also make an enormous difference in mounting the expeditionary
      warfare which is so difficult these days. Some lunatic does something in
      some far-flung part of the globe and, as was demonstrated in Kosovo, the
      West cannot get in a sufficiently large ground force quickly enough to stop
      the threat. What troublemakers know is that the West has extremely slow
      response times. This kind of technology enables you to fly in a balanced
      force that can stop an outbreak in its tracks."

      By the middle of next year ATG expects to have a 269ft, 15-tonne pay-load
      machine flying, which could be used for taking 100 people on low-level
      sightseeing trips or for carrying a huge TV advertising screen. The year
      after that will see the production of a 200-tonne payload aircraft, carrying
      twice the load of a Jumbo jet, and two years after that the SkyCat 1000. The
      C5, the largest military transport plane currently used by the US military,
      can carry one tank. The SkyCat 1000 would be able to carry 16. It would be
      capable of crossing the Atlantic twice without refuelling at a speed four
      times faster than the world's biggest cruise ship. It is so vast it could
      not fit into Wembley Stadium. In fact, by volume, it could contain Wembley
      Stadium. Although ATG is initially focusing on the potential for cargo
      transportation, the company says that once the technology is up and running,
      it could be used for a whole range of purposes. Other possible military uses
      include naval minesweeping or as an airborne radar platform. SkyCat 1000 is
      particularly suitable for the latter role as it could remain "on station"
      for days rather than hours as is the case with aircraft. It size means that,
      unlike existing airborne radar platforms, it can accommodate the large
      antennae needed to detect small, "stealthy" targets such as cruise missiles.
      Around 450 passengers could travel in the SkyCat 1000 in comfort or 100
      passengers in the kind of spacious elegance offered by an ocean liner. There
      could be silver-service meals, lounges, possibly a piano bar and state rooms
      for a comfortable night's sleep. When conditions are right, the captain
      could descend to 600ft and cut the engines so that travellers could stroll
      on an outer promenade deck in complete silence.
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