Airship flying high following CASA approval
Following CASA approval in October 2014, Australia once again has an airship in its airspace.
The airship is an American Blimp Corporation A60+, and will be used to conduct aerial advertising flights over events in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and, potentially, Perth. It is also able to operate as a television broadcast platform.
The airship is owned by Van Wagner Group, the largest operator of blimps in the world. It is the third airship to fly in Australia operated by that American parent company.
As it had been almost 10 years since the company last operated in Australia, the air operator certificate had been cancelled and the trading name changed, which meant that a new approval process was required.
As part of the process, CASA issued a new air operator’s certificate, a certificate of airworthiness, maintainer qualifications, Civil Aviation Order 20.11 training approval and foreign pilots’ certificates of validation.
Two of CASA’s inspectors from the Operations National office and Southern Region conducted a proving/chief pilot assessment flight from Riddell Airfield, north-west of Melbourne.
Airships rarely fly more than 2,000 feet above ground level and are quite slow-moving, with a cruise speed of 35 knots.
Operating with a full fuel load at a normal cruise power setting, the airship can fly for around 14 hours before requiring refuelling.
Constant control movements are required by the airship’s pilot to maintain a steady course. The elevator is controlled by large ‘pitch wheels’ located on either side of the pilot’s seat and yaw is controlled using rudder pedals.
Other key facts about the airship include:
- Its volume is 68,000 cubic feet (1,926 cubic metres).
- It is 38 metres long and 10 metres in diameter.
- It is powered by two 80 horsepower Limbach (modified VW) engines.