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IS THIS THE FUTURE OF AIR TRAVEL—A FLYING CRUISE SHIP?

Posted by: Jeremy McKenna on 8/11/2010

Meet the Aeroscraft ML866. It’s 165 feet tall, 244 feet wide, 647 feet long—more than the length of two football fields!--filled with 14 million cubic feet of helium, and capable of carrying a 400-ton payload at an estimated top speed of 175 mph. It takes off and lands like a helicopter—straight up, straight down—so it doesn’t need a runway. The Aeroscraft is scheduled to come to the travel market this year.

Billed as a “private air yacht,” the Aeroscraft could offer ocean cruises with luxury accommodations, “skimming just above forests, canyons and cities,” the website (http://tinyurl.com/587xz2) dreams, “then delivering its passengers to inland resorts and national parks hundred of miles from sea."

Or the versatile Aeroscraft could also serve as an “executive office in the sky,” with a high-tech business and conference center decked out with computerized offices, videoconferencing capabilities, a conference room that could handle 100 business travelers, and a transformable interior and personal stateroom.

The Aeroscraft uses six turbofan jets to lift it to its cruising altitude, where it’s driven by huge rearward electric propellers powered by a renewable resource, such as hydrogen fuel sells. A complex buoyancy-management system will provide precise adjustments in-flight to account for changes in outside conditions and passenger movement.

Whose idea was this, anyway? The Aeroscraft is the invention of Ukrainian-born Igor Pasternak, president of Worldwide Aeros Corporation in Canoga Park, California. Worldwide Aeros’s product line includes heavy-lift cargo planes, FAA-Certified airships, and tethered balloon systems.

Pasternak marvels at his baby’s future: “You can land on the snow, you can land on the water. It's a new vision of what can be done in the air.”

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