A city-based aviation firm is developing an Zeppelin like airship which can be deployed for search, rescue and surveillance purposes. The helium-based airship which can fly at an altitude of up to 10,000 feet and at a speed of 40 to 50 knots will have a seating capacity of eight to ten passengers including the crew. “Airships are cost effective and also environmentally-friendly when compared to conventional aircraft and helicopters. They do not require a runway to takeoff and land,” said Capt Mr Ashwin Belmar, director, Belmar Aviation which is developing the Airship. The firm which said that it’s the first of its kind attempted in India has already completed the airship’s design and has applied for an experimental manufacturer’s certificate with the concerned regulatory authorities. “Once we get the license we can start the development of the prototype which we are confident of completing by the end of the year,” Belmar said. The firm will develop the prototype at its facility in Hoskote and a German design company will be roped in for designing the airship. “The airship to be built using the dacron fabric will be powered by solar and electric batteries. To start off with we would be developing an experimental eight to ten seater airship ,” said Mr Madhusudan, director Belmar Aviation. The airship which will be on the B-class blimps operated by the US defence forces though is being primarily designed for search, rescue and surveillance purposes it can also be used for other applications. “It can be used for transportation purposes to connect small towns and villages as the airship does not require a landing strip unlike an aircraft to operate. Besides it can also be converted into a floating hotel,” said Mr Madhusudan. He added that the cost for developing an airship can vary between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore depending on the size its size and the type of avionics it carries.
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