north pole expeition atlant airship oceansky cruises
  • 7 MIN
  • Motivational

Humanity needs to build a lot of airships

By Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck, CEO at OceanSky Cruises

Our company OceanSky Cruises is focused mainly in one thing: generating demand for airships services. We want to contribute in building an airship industry, not just one airship, nor ten airships but hundreds of airships or maybe even, if we can dream, thousands of large scale airships. We believe in this technology but, in order to build an industry, there has to be a a few things in place.

1.    There must be a reason…Why should we build an industry of airships?
2.    There must be a strategy, a roadmap, a plan to reach that goal
3.    There must be a successful launch. We can’t afford to fail.

But…what does success mean?. There must be an engineering success. The airship must be proficient. There must be also an operational success which means that we can not have any accidents. And there must be a commercial success and this is where we are trying to contribute.

Just because you build an airship doesn’t mean everything goes well from there. There must be profitability for airships since in early stages in our believe. All these 3 parts have to come together for what we think revival of airships into commercial skies to happen.

airships atlant atlas

Why should we have airships darkening the skyes?

Airships have a lower energy footprint and this is very key. The climate crisis is nothing else but an energy clean crisis. We don’t have enough clean or renewable energy to supply for all our activities on Earth. That’s why we’re having this crisis. 75% of the world’s energy consumption must be sourced from fossil fuels. If we want to live sustainably we have 2 choices: to increase the renewable energy production and that we have to do it with infrastructure and it will take decades or we can reduce our consumption of energy as a world in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Let’s imagine a future with only renewable energy production. This is what most of the world wants and with sustainability on the agenda of every government today like all organizations with significance and most individuals this is gaining speed. The only way to save this planet is by using less energy or share the energy we have.
Aviation is the most challenging of all industries to make it sustainable because it requires energy to lift weight upwards with one exception: Lighter Than Air technology. So, I think that airships can become a symbol, a messenger of humanity’s transition to sustainable activities on Earth. If we can fix aviation we can fix everything.

In the past, airships were successfully used as propaganda tools. This wasn’t a bad idea in itself, although the messages, at that time, in the 1930’s were quite controversial. But airships are clean, they’re quiet, non intrusive despite their majestic size and airships are slow. Airships are spacious and one of the core pillars of luxury is comfort that comes from space. All these attributes form a powerful message and narrative is crucial to succeed with the revival of airships.Building the sensation of airships is a task not to be considered lightly. 

History is a pillar in the narrative of airships. The connection between the challenges of our time with the challenges of the past builds a bridge with the heritage and our culture. The challenges of the past were exploration and national pride. The challenge of our generation is sustainability. With a clear story of how airships can be the answer to one of the most difficult industries to decarbonize we’ll send the message to other industries there are no excuses to find a better way to operate.

Abraham Lincoln said: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed”. So, if the narrative is successful, the industry will be successful. We’ve seen through history in aviation fantastic engineering vehicles, but only a few of these machines have made commercial success. Without the collaboration between the engineering or technical and the commercial the thing usually ends in just a prototype.

It’s not easy to build and engineering marvel and it’s even more difficult to make an engineering marvel become a commercial success. Two challenges in one. I really think humanity needs to buy a lot of airships and therefore we need to succeed in making them an engineering success, an operational success but also a commercial success.

hindenburg airship
The 1920s and 1930s were the golden age of airships
airlander 10 hav airship
Innovation has made today's airships lighter and safer. Photo: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles

How to make airships commercially successful?

For OceanSky Cruises, the key is not the low footprint. The key is to maximize the competitive advantage of airships and that’s space. Nothing else has the capability to offer as much space as an airship can do. Space equals comfort, comfort equals luxury, luxury sells, sales drive revenue, revenue generates profits and profits build an industry. This is why we need to generate profits since the beginning.

What if we could in 2025-2026 start flying airships, show that the technology works, lowering the unit cost and start producing airships on a serial production after 2025? We can break into the experiential travel market, the cargo market, the passenger market. We would show that there will be a massive decrease of carbon emission from this switch from airplanes to airships.

airlander 10 hav
Space and comfort is the key advantage of airships. Photo: Courtesy of HAV
atlant airship
Airships will bring a massive decrease of carbon emission in the skies. Photo: Atlas

How do we get there?

Well, by lowering unit costs in every development cycle and also by engineering innovation and by business model innovation. Every technology is expensive in the beginning and we have to make all these sustainable alternatives as Lighter Than Air Technology become more affordable in order to people to choose traveling by airship instead of by plane and not because of sustainability but because of the price.

But we have to ignite this industry with these high unique costs in the beginning and it’s not an easy task to scale it from a niche product to a mass market segments. It involves building markets from zero. This requires endurance, strategy and collaboration. From luxury travel in the beginning we can then go into special segments of aviation cargo and passenger travel.

In order to fulfill all these requirements that constitute the beginning of a success story, landing on ground zero for climate change, the North Pole, makes, in our opinion, the best beginning for the revival of airships. 

Watch the full video HERE

oceansky cruises north pole airship
Photo: Tom Hegen
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