Skyship 600 Marine configuration,
showing the patrol boat under the gondola
Skyship 600 lowering
600 with Marine livery
Santos Dumont with news Textron Lycoming IO-540 engines fitted
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.