Airships, those ponderous blimp-like cargo carriers that have yet to gain much commercial traction, have a couple of fans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrat Brad Sherman of California and Republican Tom Rooney of Florida announced in March that they had established the Cargo Airship Caucus to encourage the development of the rotund aircraft for military and civilian use.
The congressmen say the fuel-efficient airships currently under development could carry large cargo payloads over long distances at a fraction of the cost of fixed-wing aircraft. Because they require little in the way of ground infrastructure, airships can land and unload cargo in remote locations. This could allow the military to deliver large cargoes to theaters of operation more quickly than via maritime shipping, and could be especially effective in disaster relief, Sherman and Rooney said. Airships are also suitable for delivering large equipment for energy projects, such as wind farms, which often are located far from ground transportation networks, they noted.
The congressmen are now recruiting additional members for the caucus and will host a meeting to introduce members to the recent advancements in airship development by U.S. manufacturers.