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OVERVIEW | AIRFREIGHT


For the oil and gas sector, the reduction in commodity


prices also created a slowdown in charter requirements, albeit with a delayed effect as committed projects were completed. “During this period, we saw the defence sector increase, and this provided an important bridge for us for much of the recession,” explained Michael Goodisman, business develop ment director, Antonov Airlines UK. Today, Antonov’s largest sector is aerospace. “We have


developed a real expertise in satellites, for example. Tey are very valuable and have very specific requirements, with lots of procedures that need to be followed closely. Our AN-124 crews have a lot of experience in this sector so satellite companies are confident to use us,” he stated. Aerospace has also been Volga-Dnepr’s fastest-growing


sector over the last ten years and now accounts for 30-35 percent of its annual business. Humanitarian relief has also proven to be a lucrative source of work for both airlines.


Human interaction Technology has had a huge impact on the logistics sector in the last ten years, but there is general agreement that it is not as influential in the heavy lift air cargo sector. BACA said online bookings in the passenger and


commercial jet sectors have taken the market by storm. “Tere have been discussions for a long time now as to whether that can be adapted for project cargoes and air charter. Tere could be an appetite for that, but it is quite difficult to implement because there are so many variants that have to be looked at, checked and discussed when dealing with outsize cargo...


A LOT OF HOT AIR?


Human interaction is needed when it comes to out-of-gauge movements by charter,” Edwards said. Goodisman said that technology improvements have helped with Antonov’s cargo load studies. “Our load planners do use 3D models [images] of large, complex-shaped cargoes and manipulate them within the 3D model of the Antonov’s cargo cabin. Computer processing speeds are much faster now, so our load planners perform 3D stress analysis of spreader frame designs – checking flight G forces – much quicker than it was possible to do ten years ago.” Te major sectors providing heavy lift airfreight


opportunties – aerospace, oil and gas, power and energy, heavy machinery, humanitarian and government – are the same today as they were ten years ago. “Tere is resilience in terms of demand. Some industries


outperform others at certain times, but the demand for specialist outsize and heavyweight air cargo solutions has proven to be not only a sustainable but a growing market,” said Kraynov.


Although most people seem cautiously optimistic that global economic conditions are gradually improving, they also agree that shippers will remain highly focused on price. So how does the higher cost airfreight sector continue to attract the heavy lift and project traffic? Goodisman summarised: “Often the cost of lost


production at an oil rig or factory, or the penalty for a deadline missed, is greater than the cost of airfreighting the necessary part. Tey just ask if they will save money – or even customer loyalty – overall.”


airship system for surveillance applications, developed by Northrop Grumman in cooperation with Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV). The 100 m-long airship was able to fly at altitudes of more than 6,000 m for a three-week period, carrying a payload of around 1.5 tonnes. Today, various aerospace developers


have built on these foundations and are preparing to launch giant airships for the commercial sector in the coming years. The proposed advantages of airships


The potential application of airships in the heavy lift and project logistics arena has been a common theme of HLPFI’s editorial coverage. In 2008, Boeing agreed on a joint venture undertaking with Canada’s SkyHook International. The venture planned to develop a 90 m-long airship- helicopter hybrid, capable of carrying 40-tonne loads up to 200 miles (322 km). The blimp-chopper never entered into


commercial service. However, in 2012, the US Army tested the Long Endurance Multi- intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), a hybrid


44 | HLPFI10


include being able to access ever-more remote regions, or those hit by humanitarian disaster. The helium-filled balloons are able to land and takeoff on flat terrain, without the need for extensive ground infrastructure. Environmental advantages also work in the airship’s favour. In 2010, HAV planned to launch three cargo versions of its airship – with cargo payloads of 20, 50 and 200 tonnes. Come September 2016, after four years’


effort to secure type certification, the prototype Airlander 10 completed its first


test flight; the second test was not as successful, with a heavy landing damaging the aircraft. It went from bad to worse in December 2017 when Airlander 10 broke its moorings, triggering a safety system that deflated the craft. In 2016 we saw Skeleton Technologies


join forces with Flying Whales to build a 60-tonne capacity airship, dubbed LCA60T, with industrial production scheduled for 2021. Aeros has also been developing its Aeroscraft, with 66-tonne and 250-tonne payload capacity vehicles scheduled to enter service by 2023. In 2016, Straightline Aviation (SLA)


signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 12 Lockheed Martin LMH-1 hybrid airships. By mid-2017 Hybrid Air Freighters (HAF) had also signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 12 LMH-1s, which have a 21-ton (19.1-tonne) cargo payload. The potential of airships is undeniable.


However, the technology clearly still has some way to go before it wins the hearts and minds of the market.


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