Air Transportation: May 12, 2001


Germany's CargoLifter company plans to flight test its CL160 Flying Crane airship in 2003 with production to begin by 2005. General Electric has signed on as a partner; it will provide eight huge CT7-8 turbofans for each aircraft. CargoLifter plans to build the smaller CL75 AirCrane earlier to prove the concept and attract customers and investors. The airships are to be huge; the CL160 has been mentioned as carrying an entire company of heavy tanks. They would be used for civilian cargo transport in peacetime, and rapidly switched to military operations in wartime. Proponents of heavy armor have long proposed that aircraft of this type (which could deliver armor to the Gulf in three or four days compared to ships taking several weeks.) Cargo Lifter has recently redesigned the CL160 to reduce the number of engines from 16 to eight, improve the aerodynamic shape, and reduce the weight of the aircraft itself.--Stephen V Cole


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