Cool business ideas for startups and business development

Airships: The hard part, making it work! Pt3

This is part 3 of the Airship series: Navigating the Skies: The Modern Airship Renaissance.

If modern airships are the epitome of innovation in aviation, then they have to rely on a carefully selected array of infrasructure ,equipment and materials to ensure safety, efficiency, and functionality.

I have written below a long laundry list of requirements needed to run Airships as a fully implemented technology and service which are the following:

  • Infrastructure\ Precursors
  • Operating and maintaining modern Airships
  • Building modern airships
  • list of risks, security, and safety considerations for implementing airships as a service

Infrastructure\ Precursors

It should be noted that the Precursors needed for a successful pilot project are not the same as a full service look at the development cycle for commercial drones.These article provide parralel context i.e. Commercial drone development:, ,  Healthcare by air: Rwanda’s life-saving medical drones, Drone delivery: More lift than you think . Players and Market size: Antwork, Flytrex, Manna, Matternet, Skyports, Swoop Aero, Wing, Zipline, and this is not an exhaustive list. These and other drone-delivery companies have received more than $1 billion in disclosed funding over the past 10 years.

The developers will choose from below the aspects needed minimum viable product (MVP) for the start-up which I have written an MVP suggestion in the appendices:

1. Airport Infrastructure:

   – Landing area and docking facilities transportation to airships and connections to terminals and other facilities.

   – Cargo Terminals: Dedicated facilities for processing, storing, and handling cargo shipments.

   – Apron Area: Parking areas for airships, equipped with loading and unloading facilities.

   – Hangars: Sheltered storage for aircraft maintenance and cargo handling.

   – Control Tower: Provides air traffic control to ensure safe movement of aircraft.

   – Fire and Rescue Facilities: Necessary for emergencies and fire-fighting during aircraft operations.

   – Security Facilities: Ensure the safety of goods in transit and security screening processes.

   – Customs and Border Control Facilities: For cargo clearance and inspection.

2. Navigation and Communication:

   – Air Traffic Control (ATC) System: Ensures safe separation and movement of aircraft.

   – Navigation Aids: Including Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) (optional), VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR) (optional), and GPS.

   – Radar Systems: For tracking aircraft positions and movements.

   – Communication Infrastructure: Radios, data links, and communication towers for pilot-ATC and inter-aircraft communication.

3. Ground Handling Equipment:

   – Cargo Loaders: Vehicles for loading/unloading cargo onto/from airships.

   – Forklifts and Pallet Loaders: Used for moving cargo within the terminal.

   – Aircraft Tractors and Tugs: To tow aircraft on the ground.

   – ULDs (Unit Load Devices): Containers and pallets designed for efficient cargo storage and transportation.

4. Infrastructure for Customs and Inspection:

   – Cargo Screening Equipment: X-ray scanners, explosive detection systems, and other screening technologies.

   – Customs Facilities: Offices and inspection areas for cargo clearance.

5. Precursors for airships Cargo Transport:

   – Cargo Airships: Dedicated airships with large cargo holds for transporting goods.

   – Air Cargo Carriers: cargo operators specialized in transporting goods.

   – Logistics Partnerships: Collaborations with logistics companies for efficient cargo handling and distribution.

   – Cargo Handling Personnel: Skilled staff for loading, unloading, and securing cargo.

6. Regulatory Approvals and Agreements:

   – Operational Certifications: Regulatory approvals from aviation authorities for cargo operations.

   – Air Traffic Rights: Negotiated agreements for local or international flight routes.

   – Customs and Import/Export Regulations: Complying with customs and trade regulations for cross-border transport.

7. Infrastructure for Data and Documentation:

   – Cargo Management Systems: Software for tracking, scheduling, and managing cargo operations.

   – Documentation: Efficient systems for electronic air waybills, manifests, and customs paperwork.

8. Security Measures:

   – Cargo Security: Measures to prevent theft, tampering, and smuggling of goods.

   – Cybersecurity: Protection of electronic systems and data from cyber threats.

9. Warehousing and Storage Facilities:

   – Temporary Storage: Holding areas for cargo in transit awaiting onward transportation.

   – Cold Storage Facilities: For perishable goods.

   – Storage for Hazardous Materials: Specialized facilities for hazardous cargo.

10. Infrastructure for Special Cargo:

   – Livestock Handling Facilities: For transporting live animals.

   – Perishable Goods Handling: Cold storage, climate-controlled areas, and fast handling for perishables.

Creating an effective airships cargo aviation network requires a combination of well-planned infrastructure, skilled personnel, technology, and regulatory adherence to ensure safe, efficient, and timely transport of goods.

Operating and maintaining modern Airships

Operating and maintaining modern airships as a service involves a comprehensive approach that includes various services, materials, and resources. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements required to run and maintain modern airships as a service:

1. Airship Operations:

   – Pilots and Crew: Trained personnel for piloting, navigating, and operating the airship.

   – Flight Planning: Routes, schedules, and operational considerations for safe and efficient flights.

   – Ground Operations: Personnel for ground handling, mooring, and logistics.

   – Safety and Compliance: Compliance with aviation regulations and safety protocols.

2. Maintenance:

   – Maintenance Crew: Skilled technicians for routine inspections, repairs, and maintenance tasks.

   – Maintenance Facility: Hangars or maintenance areas for sheltering and working on the airship.

   – Spare Parts: Inventory of spare parts and components for timely repairs.

   – Tools and Equipment: Tools, diagnostic equipment, and specialized tools for maintenance tasks.

3. Infrastructure and Facilities:

   – Mooring and Berthing Facilities: Safe and suitable locations for mooring the airship.

   – Storage and Hangars: Facilities for storing and maintaining the airship when not in use.

   – Office and Operations Space: Administrative facilities for managing bookings, customer service, and operations.

4. Materials and Components:

   – Envelope Maintenance: Coatings, patches, and materials for repairing the airship’s envelope.

   – Structural Components: Replacement parts for the airship’s structural elements.

   – Engine Parts: Spare parts for engines and propulsion systems.

   – Electronics and Avionics: Replacement components for navigation, communication, and control systems.

5. Safety and Emergency Services:

   – Emergency Response Plan: Protocols for handling emergencies and ensuring passenger and crew safety.

   – Fire Suppression Systems: Equipment and materials for rapid response to fires.

   – First Aid and Medical Supplies: Medical equipment and supplies for onboard emergencies.

6. Passenger Services (if applicable):

   – Booking and Reservations: Online platforms or systems for customers to book airship rides.

   – Passenger Comfort: Comfortable seating, climate control, and amenities for passengers.

   – Catering Services: If offering catering or refreshments during flights.

   – Entertainment and Communication: In-flight entertainment and communication systems for passengers.

7. Administrative and Support Services:

   – Customer Service: Staff for addressing customer inquiries, bookings, and feedback.

   – Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Managing the supply of materials and components.

   – Financial Management: Accounting, invoicing, and financial planning for the service.

8. Marketing and Promotion:

   – Branding and Advertising: Promoting the airship service to potential customers.

   – Public Relations: Engaging with the media and public to create awareness.

9. Training and Qualifications:

   – Pilot and Crew Training: Ongoing training to maintain skills and stay updated on safety protocols.

   – Maintenance Training: Ensuring maintenance crews are trained to perform repairs and inspections.

Running a modern airship service involves a holistic approach that covers operations, maintenance, safety, customer service, and logistics. It’s crucial to maintain a high level of safety, reliability, and customer satisfaction to succeed in this unique aviation niche.

Building modern airships

Modern airships, also known as hybrid airships, require a variety of materials to operate efficiently and safely. These materials are used for construction, propulsion, navigation, and other essential systems. Here’s an overview of the key materials needed to run modern airships:

1. Lightweight Structural Materials:

   – Aramid Fiber (Kevlar): Used for the envelope (outer shell) of the airship due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and durability.

   – Polyurethane Coating: Provides protection against weather and UV radiation for the envelope.

   – Aluminium and Titanium: Used for the structural framework and certain components.

2. Gases:

   – Helium: The primary lifting gas used in modern airships due to its non-flammable and buoyant properties.

3. Propulsion System:

   – Engines: Modern airships use a combination of conventional aircraft engines, propellers, and possibly electric propulsion systems for thrust and manoeuvring.

4. Avionics and Navigation:

   – Electronics and Wiring: Various electronic components for navigation, communication, control, and monitoring systems.

   – Navigation and Communication Systems: GPS, radios, transponders, and other avionics equipment.

5. Control Systems:

   – Hydraulic Systems: Used for controlling surfaces like rudders and elevators for stability and manoeuvrability.

   – Electronic Control Systems: Including fly-by-wire technology and automated control systems.

6. Interior and Payload:

   – Interior Materials: For passenger or cargo compartments, including seating, flooring, and storage areas.

   – Payload Handling Equipment: Equipment for loading and unloading cargo, if used for transport.

7. Safety and Fire Prevention:

   – Fire-Resistant Materials: Used in critical areas to reduce the risk of fire and enhance safety.

   – Fire Suppression Systems: To quickly extinguish fires should they occur.

8. Miscellaneous:

   – Ballast Material: Sandbags or other ballast materials used to adjust the airship’s weight for buoyancy control.

   – Mooring Equipment: Materials for secure mooring during ground operations.

9. Environmental Considerations:

   – Sustainable Materials: Increasingly, manufacturers are exploring environmentally friendly and recyclable materials for airship construction.

It’s important to note that the specific materials used can vary based on the design and purpose of the airship. Modern airships aim to strike a balance between structural integrity, weight efficiency, safety, and functionality. The materials chosen should contribute to the overall reliability and performance of the airship while meeting regulatory and safety standards.

Risks, security, and safety considerations for implementing airships as a service

List of risk, security, and safety considerations for implementing airships as a service:

1.   Weather-Related Risks: 

   – Adverse Weather Conditions: Airships are susceptible to turbulence, storms, and high winds at higher altitudes, which can impact safety and flight schedules.

   – Lightning Strikes: Airships can be vulnerable to lightning strikes, requiring proper grounding and lightning protection systems.

2.   Operational Risks: 

   – Mooring Accidents: Ground operations, including mooring and berthing, can pose risks if not executed safely.

   – Collision Risks: Collisions with other aircraft or obstacles in the airspace, including drones, must be minimized.

   – Engine Failure: Airships must have contingency plans for engine failures during flight.

3.   Maintenance Risks: 

   – Regular Inspection: Airships require routine inspections and maintenance to ensure structural integrity and safety.

   – Spare Parts Availability: Ensuring a readily available supply of spare parts for repairs and replacements is essential.

4.   Fire and Safety Risks: 

   – Fire Safety: Airships should be equipped with fire suppression systems and safety measures to handle onboard fires.

   – Evacuation Procedures: Clear evacuation procedures must be in place for passengers and crew in case of emergencies.

  Security Considerations: 

5.   Cargo Security: 

   – Cargo Theft: Implement measures to prevent theft or tampering with cargo during transport.

   – Security Screening: Ensure rigorous cargo screening and security checks for sensitive or valuable shipments.

6.   Data Security: 

   – Cybersecurity: Protect electronic systems and communication from cyber threats that could compromise flight safety and data integrity.

   – Data Privacy: Safeguard passenger data and information collected during flights to ensure privacy.

  Safety Considerations: 

7.   Pilot and Crew Training: 

   – Qualified Personnel: Ensure pilots and crew members are well-trained and certified to operate airships safely.

   – Emergency Response: Crew members should be trained in emergency procedures and first aid.

8.   Passenger Safety: 

   – Passenger Briefings: Provide clear safety briefings and instructions to passengers before and during flights.

   – Seating and Restraints: Ensure passengers are seated securely and provided with appropriate restraints.

9.   Weather Monitoring: 

   – Real-time Weather Updates: Continuously monitor weather conditions and have protocols for diverting or delaying flights when necessary.

10.   Communication Systems: 

    – Reliable Communication: Maintain reliable communication systems for pilot-ATC communication and emergency situations.

    – GPS and Navigation: Ensure accurate GPS and navigation systems for safe route planning.

11.   Emergency Response: 

    – Emergency Equipment: Equip airships with necessary emergency equipment, including life rafts and first aid kits.

    – Evacuation Drills: Conduct regular evacuation drills for passengers and crew.

12.   Environmental Considerations: 

    – Fuel Efficiency: Optimize operations to reduce environmental impact and carbon emissions.

    – Eco-friendly Materials: Explore the use of sustainable and recyclable materials in airship construction.

13.   Regulatory Compliance: 

    – Adherence to Regulations: Comply with aviation regulations, customs and import/export rules, and safety standards.

    – Licensing and Certification: Ensure airships, pilots, and crew members are appropriately licensed and certified.

14.   Public Perception: 

    – Building Trust: Address public perception and concerns regarding the safety and reliability of airships, especially after historical accidents involving older airship models.

These considerations are crucial for the safe and successful implementation of airships as a service. Implementing comprehensive risk management, security measures, and safety protocols will help mitigate potential challenges and ensure the overall safety of passengers, cargo, and operations.


Modern airships hold immense promise as a transformative transportation and cargo solution. However, their successful implementation requires meticulous planning and consideration of various factors. From building materials to infrastructure, operational aspects to safety measures, and even a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) plan, this comprehensive exploration sheds light on the intricacies of making airships work efficiently and safely. With the right approach, airships can revolutionize the transportation and cargo industry, offering eco-friendly and innovative solutions for the future.

Part 4: Airships: you seriously want to invest, or do you?

Appendices: Here’s a simplified MVP plan:

  Objective: To establish a basic airship cargo transport service for proof of concept, feasibility and testing.

 Key Components:

1.   Cargo Airship: Acquire or lease a small cargo airship suitable for carrying a limited amount of cargo. The airship should meet safety and regulatory requirements.

2.   Airport Infrastructure:

   – Identify a location with a basic landing strip and docking facilities for airships. Ensure minimal infrastructure requirements are met.

3.   Ground Handling Equipment:

   – Procure a cargo loader and a forklift for loading/unloading cargo onto/from the airship.

4.   Regulatory Approvals and Agreements:

   – Obtain necessary operational certifications from aviation authorities for cargo operations.

   – Establish local flight routes or agreements for limited operations within a specific region.

5.   Safety and Emergency Services:

   – Develop a basic emergency response plan for handling emergencies during operations.

   – Equip the airship with fire suppression equipment for safety.

6.   Infrastructure for Data and Documentation:

   – Implement a simplified cargo management system for tracking cargo operations.

   – Set up a basic documentation system for air waybills and manifests.

7.   Personnel:

   – Hire a small team of cargo handling personnel, including a pilot, ground crew, and maintenance technician.

8.   Materials:

   – Procure helium for the airship’s lifting gas and any necessary spare parts for maintenance.


1. Conduct Initial Flights: Perform a series of limited cargo transport flights to demonstrate the concept’s viability.

2. Cargo Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses and logistics companies to secure cargo for transportation.

3. Marketing and Promotion: Create awareness about the airship cargo transport service within the local region.

 Measurement and Evaluation:

1. Safety and Compliance: Ensure that all operations comply with safety and regulatory standards.

2. Cargo Transport Efficiency: Evaluate the efficiency of cargo loading, transport, and unloading processes.

3. Customer Feedback: Gather feedback from cargo partners and customers to assess satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.


Once the MVP demonstrates feasibility and generates positive feedback, consider scaling the operation by expanding the fleet, adding more airport infrastructure, and improving technology and documentation systems.

The MVP focuses on launching a basic airship cargo transport service with minimal infrastructure and resources to test the market and gather valuable insights. It allows for the gradual expansion and refinement of the service based on initial performance and feedback.

  Conclusion (MVP Plan):   

To demonstrate the feasibility of airships as a cargo transport service, we propose a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) plan. The objective is to establish a basic airship cargo transport service for proof of concept and feasibility testing. Key components of this MVP include acquiring a cargo airship, identifying suitable infrastructure, obtaining necessary regulatory approvals, ensuring safety measures, establishing basic cargo management systems, and hiring essential personnel. The MVP focuses on launching a basic airship cargo transport service with minimal infrastructure and resources to test the market and gather valuable insights, paving the way for potential expansion and improvements.

Part 4: Airships: you seriously want to invest, or do you?