Euro Airship has announced the launch of its groundbreaking project, Solar Airship One: a non-stop world tour flight with no fossil fuels and zero CO2 emissions. According to the company, this groundbreaking project will be the world’s first demonstration of a completely new low-carbon mobility solution.
Solar Airship One is a whale-shaped aircraft set to fly over 25 countries for 20 days without stopping, using solar power and hydrogen. The solar airship is expected to take off in 2026, and the team believes that the aircraft will fly without any noise, fossil fuel, or CO2 emissions, relying solely on the sun and hydrogen to power it.
This massive 151-meter-(495 feet)-long Solar Airship One is a rigid airship boasting a helium expansion volume of 53,000 cubic meters. It will have its entire upper surface covered in an impressive 4,800 square meters of solar film to fully capture sunlight.
During the day, the solar panels will run the airship’s electric propulsion systems and store extra power for overnight use by electrolyzing water into hydrogen. The hydrogen will run through a fuel cell at night to provide the energy needed to keep going.
To avoid the inertia associated with the use of helium, the airship will be made up of 15 gas envelopes, each individually managed to enable an instant response and anticipation of meteorological events.
This epic journey will fly over 40,000 km (24,854 miles) in 20 days, following a trajectory close to the equator at an average altitude of 6,000 meters (19,685 ft). It’ll be piloted by a team of three unique individuals, including former astronaut Michel Tognini, paraplegic pilot Dorine Bourneton, and adventurer Bertrand Piccard.
While its average speed of approximately 83 km/h (52 mph) may seem slow compared to conventional airliners, the airship offers the advantage of versatility. For example, being able to stop and start at more or less any point you like without needing a runway.
In addition, the company is set to make the airship completely autonomous, ensuring that it will not require heavy infrastructure on the ground to be secured. For regular stops, a simple rotating platform on a sheet of water is sufficient, making it easy to operate and maintain. To ensure stability and ballast, the airship will be equipped with both a classic water-based system and a compressed-air-based system.
Moreover, the airship has a double envelope that stabilizes external pressures and regulates internal temperatures. This technological innovation allows the airship to be used in all weather conditions, thanks to its automatic de-icing system, ensuring greater profitability and versatility.
Solar Airship One will emerge from over ten years of research and development, with the support of partners such as Capgemini, Groupe La Poste Orange, and others.
Euro Airship will begin construction of the Solar Airship One in 2024, with the final assembly to take place the following year. After gaining experimental certification, the company plans to embark on its intrepid voyage in 2026.