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Can CO2 Worries and Rising Oil Costs Make Airships Popular Again?

Illustration for article titled Can CO2 Worries and Rising Oil Costs Make Airships Popular Again?

With soaring fuel costs and greenhouse gas concerns, zeppelins might get their second chance to be a relevant mode of transportation. According to the New York Times, several countries are now looking into developing dirigibles for transporting things such as sightseers, postal deliveries and scientific payloads. France's postal service, La Poste, seems to have some of the most ambitious plans in mind: using airships on routes between France and Corsica or the Antilles in an effort to reduce emissions.

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Most experts say that the dirigibles will likely remain a niche vessel. The flying machines can only reach top speeds of around 100 miles an hour, fly in fair to good weather, and hold a maximum capacity of several dozen passengers. Not to mention, each one is still about the size of a football field. But at least now, thanks to improvements in materials and safety standards, passengers won't have to worry about being trapped in another Hindenburg. [New York Times]

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DISCUSSION

@Uncle Remus: High-speed trains are not BS. They're a an excellent element in an integrated transport system.

For NY to LA there's no beating a plane, but over shorter distances (e.g., LA to Las Vegas or San Francisco, NY to Boston, etc) a high-speed train makes sense. Eliminating the long check in and security check means that the actual time taken to get from A to B can be similar or less than a plane over those distances.

The train could also be significantly cheaper, particularly in light of current and future fuel costs.