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Airship Industries

SkyShip 600

Length 193.6ft
Diameter 49.9ft
Speed 70mph
Volume 235, 400cft

The Great Blimp Race 1986


Further developement of the Skyship 500 lead to the release of the successful "sister ship", the Skyship 600.

The Skyship 500 model had proved to be very successful in a very short time, and it was always intended to prove bigger ships, the new Skyship 600 was to show that bigger is better.

Skyship 600 emerging from Cardington shed 1
Plan of the Skyship 600 gondola
Skyship 600 Plan
Passenger Configuration of Skyship 600
Offshore configuration of Skyship 600
Skyship 600 scale compared to a 744 and the R101

To fill the demand for more airships, the designers at Airship Industries agreed that an new ship was required with alarger payload capacity. It was agree that the original design of the ship was indeed very sound, and so with a few simple alterations, the Skyship 500 design was enhanced to become the new Skyship 600. There had always been a plan to "grow" the fleet of ships and provide larger enveloped ships, with more capabilities and an expanded operational focus.

The key changes and benefit was that with to offer a greater payload, the airship benifitted from an advantage in physics over heavier than aircraft. The extension of the envelope by some 30% would give an increase in lift by 50%. This could be use

The new Skyship 600 was born. With an increased payload, the main role of the ship, passenger trips, could be enhanced by the ability to carry more passengers. The gondola enhanced by streching the original design and adding three round windows at the back of the main cabin.

The passenger accommodation increaded to carry up to 18 passengers in comfort and crew. With the ability to not only carry more passengers on a Skycruise but to also carry more “multi-role” tasks, the 600 was in demand. Even though the ship now carried more wieght, it's performance matched that of the 500 by the two porche engines benifitting from being "turbo charged".

Passenger Layout - Skyship 600

The Skycruise tours were so successful, Airship Industries operated a scheduled air service over the major cities of the world. However the multi role aspect of the airship was accepted. With all of the ships benifitting from such a large envelope the aerial advertising revenue was a good benifit for the company, however this was not their main role.

The ships were used for scheduled passenger flights over many capitals of the world, the airborne coastal surveillance was an additional role. The airships were also seen as very stable and enduring camera platforms used by many television companies for boradcasting of major events. Unike helicoptors, the airship provide a durable, low noise, vibration free platform for broadcasters.

The first Skyship 600 (600-1 registration G-SKSC) took to the skies with a maiden flight in March 1984, and a second ship (600-2 registration VH-HAA) was launched in September 1985.

Off Shore Configuration - Skyship 600 - Marine

Government interest in the airship grew as they were proving a reliable and cheaper alternative to existing facilites. Thier low cost, long flying durations and stability as aerial platforms were becoming more attractive for fisheries protection, and surveillance.Important trials were carried out with the French Navy and American Government during the 1980’s.

A Skyship 600 was adapted with a winch system in the gondola whereby the ship sucessfully lowered and recovered a small maritime patrol boat. This was seen as a great success in the role of the airship being able to operate in a multitude of enviroments.

The ship The Skyship 500 & 600 can still be seen today, 20 years after the initial prototype took off. In 1988 the 600 series were distributed throughout the world. Many of them are re-fitted and still in operation today operated by many airship management companies.


Further enhancements to the Skyship 600 - December 2002

On December 23rd 2002 the FAA certified the apty named "Santos-Dumont", new Skyship 600, with Lycoming engine propulsion system. Based out of Elizabeth City N.C the ship operated by Airship Management Services was launched with new outfitted with Textron Lycoming IO-540 engines, a vectorable thrust outboard propulsion system that required a Supplemental Type Certificate. FAA officials awarded the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) following a series of flight performances on Skyship N606SA.

The new Textron Lycoming IO-540 twin outboard vectorable thrust engines are mounted in swiveling, ducted fans, and each produce 300 hp. They replace the original Porsche 930 turbine inboard engines of 255 hp that have powered the Skyship 600 series since its introduction in 1985.
The new propulsion system enhances the aircraft's capability for hovering and holding station; facilitates faster takeoffs, quicker response in landings, and boosts overall in-flight maneuverability.

The new airship was named in honor of Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian aviation pioneer who won the Deutsch Prize in Paris by becoming the first to fly a dirigible in controlled flight around the Eiffel Tower more than 100 years ago (in 1901) and who later introduced powered fixed-wing flight to Europe.

Outfitted with a new envelope from TCOM L.P., "Santos-Dumont" made its maiden test flight on January 18 of 2002.

Airship Reference
Maiden Flight
Brief Operational History
March 1984

Skyship 600 G-SKSC was active from March 1984 to the closure of the business in September 1990. The ship was used for certification of the 600 series, and flew trials with the French Navy in November 1984.

The ship was used to operative Skyship tours with G-B1HN and also advertising contracts. G-SKSC was also damaged in the same gales as G-B1HN and also highlighted a design flaw: when moored up in strong winds the envelope stretched lenghways and after a while sprang backwards, causing the batons which laced the nose cone to the envelope, dig on to the envelope and eventually puncture it and let the wind split the envelope from end to end.

G-SKSC was rebuilt with a new envelope and made the final Airship Industries flight in 1990. After the administrators were called in the team at Airship Industries persuaded them to allow “joyrides” to continue at Cardington to sell the company as a going concern. This formula was continued for a month until the company finally went in to liquidation.

September 1985

Skyship 600 G-SKSD made one two hour flight only, in September 1985, and can be seen in the famous photo of 3 Skyships flying together, which was the only time the three ships flew together in the UK.

600 G-SKSC was assembled in March 1984 at Cardington, and the G-SKSD's enveolpe was inflated under a net where it remained for some time as there was no money to complete it.

Having spent the best part of two years as a hanger queen with the envelope inflated under a net and the gondola on a trolley underneath, the Bond Corporation, who then owned Airship Industries wanted to start their Australian operation, and so the ship was completed and flown once to get a Certificate of Airworthiness, then dismantled and shipped to Australia.

Touring Canada
July 1985
Weeksville (USA)
June 1986
Touring USA
November 1986
February 1987
August 1987

Currently, Skyship 600s are the largest and most comfortable passenger-carrying airships in the world, offering a spacious cabin with abundant headroom, windows that open in flight, first class seating, a galley for serving food and beverages, and a lavatory.

They have the highest rated payload capacity available today and have proven their reliability all over the world.




Related ships: SkyShip 500, SkyShip 5000

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