Nevada based-Airship Surveillance flew its technology demonstrator R&D1 airship for the first time on 11 March to prove its thrust-vectoring technology and other systems that will be used for the company's production lighter-than-air vehicles.

On 11 March R&D1 made three 15min flights at the company's facilities to test the thrust-vectoring system that is to be used when control surfaces are not effective at very slow speeds.

 © Airship Surveillance


The flights were early in the morning to ensure calm weather to allow a handling qualities baseline to be gauged.

"The technology being tested on this flight is steering the airship via thrust vectoring to provide full control at low airspeeds when control surfaces are not effective - a major issue with airship operations," says Airship Surveillance chief executive Paul Adams.

"The stabilisers do not have have control surfaces. This is the first of two parts to this series of tests. We will be adding additional equipment once the current hardware has been tested," he adds.

The company is offering its production airships, the L5 and L15, for surveillance. The L15 is designed to operate at 15,000ft (4,500m) with payloads up to 454kg (1000lb), it has a maximum endurance of up to 50h and a top speed of 60kt (110km/h).

Details of the L5 have not been made public.