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SkyShip 600
Airship Industries SkyShip 600

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

DOCUMENTS The Skyship 500 model had proved to be very successful in a very short time, so a new model was needed, and also shown that there was a need for airships in the modern age
Length 193.6ft
Diameter 49.9ft
Speed 70mph
Volume 235, 400cft


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
Vectoring for landing
Skyship 600 Marine configuration, showing the patrol boat under the gondola
Skyship 600 lowering patrol boat
Skyship 600 with Marine livery
Skyship 600 Santos Dumont with news Textron Lycoming IO-540 engines fitted in 2002

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.

The main alteration was with the envelope. 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%.

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.

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.


Airship Reference
Maiden Flight
March 1984
September 1985
Touring Canada
July 1985
Weeksville (USA)
June 1986
Touring USA
November 1986
February 1987
August 1987

Related ships: SkyShip 500, SkyShip 5000

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