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The Dynalifter® Concept

The Dynalifter® hybrid airship offers unique capabilities allowing it to fulfill certain specialized roles in a manner that will prove superior to conventional airplanes, helicopters, or airships. The most unique feature of Dynalifters in general is their ability to fly on low amounts of power at low speeds, much like airships, but without the operational drawbacks of a traditional airship. This offers long endurance and range.

Most of the skepticism surrounding new airship concepts focuses on ground-handling under windy conditions.  All Dynalifters have been designed to land without a mooring crew and do not require a weight transfer system under normal conditions.

Dynalifters have been designed to withstand up to 30 knot crosswinds after releasing their useful load. In addition to making Dynalifters more operationally robust, this allows for unique capabilities such as precise airdropping and mission-specific, detachable cargo pods

Under extreme conditions (winds in excess of 30 knots), the Dynalifter can remain firmly on the ground either by pointing it into the wind, refueling before the cargo has been released, not releasing the cargo at all, or tying it down.

Dynalifters avoid the operational drawbacks of a traditional airship associated with takeoff, landing, and ground operations. The conventional airship is difficult to handle on the ground. It requires a large number of people to grab lines during landing, or it must use equipment of some sort to "catch" the airship and attach it to a mooring mast. With passengers and fuel removed, the airship experiences excess buoyancy and so must be over-ballasted before unloading. When fuel is burned during flight, it becomes too light to land, requiring either valving off lifting gas or use of an elaborate mechanism to recover water vapor from the engine exhaust.

The Dynalifter® avoids many of these problems [with airships] because it isn’t "lighter-than-air". With a large fraction of its weight carried by aerodynamic lift on the wings and hull, it has a substantial net download when sitting on the ground allowing it to withstand a gusty side wind. It lands like a normal aircraft, decelerating on a runway as its weight is transferred from the wings to the tires.

The company subcontracted conceptual design engineering to defense contractors Conceptual Research Corporation, Analytical Methods, and Composite Engineering. Together, the companies completed conceptual designs for four different sizes of Dynalifters ranging from the 120 ft. Dynalifter® Patroller and RV to the 990 ft. Dynalifter® Freighter. The concept has been evaluated by engineering studies that included computational fluid dynamics, initial fabrication selection, and cost analyses.

OAI was not the first to conceive an airplane / airship hybrid. One of Howard Hughes’ last projects was development of the heavy-lift Megalifter hybrid.  Unfortunately, the project died with him.

OAI improved upon the Megalifter concept most notably with the Dynalifter’s patented internal frame. The company borrowed a concept currently used in modern bridge construction known as “stay bridge construction” and applied it to the Dynalifter’s design. Stay bridge construction is a method bridge builders use to distribute high loads (i.e. cars and trucks) along the length of the bridge while dramatically reducing the total weight of the bridge. These features were exactly what the Dynalifter needed for distributing the high concentrated loads it would encounter during operations.

Dynalifters are capable of releasing detachable cargo pods without the need for a weight transfer system.  First, this would allow for rapid loading and off-loading.  Loading and off-loading the pods could actually take place without the aircraft’s presence, further reducing aircraft vulnerability and deployment time. Second, detachable pods could carry the next mission’s fuel and supplies, allowing for in-flight refueling and quick turnarounds. Third, detachable pods could be uniquely designed for each mission. There would no longer be a need to modify aircraft for special missions; modify the cargo pods instead. Fourth, detachable pods could provide instant infrastructure at the destination point. Like building blocks, Dynalifters could drop off multiple pods, building temporary repair facilities, field hospitals, and barracks. A small base could be assembled remotely with unprecedented speed.

 

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