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Moving towards a solution full of benefits
Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Airships are experiencing renewed interest. Onera contributes to this renewal, partner of many companies, to which it brings its recognized expertise to meet the scientific and technical challenges associated with the development of these aircraft.

Filled with helium, the airships float in the air and do not need a lot of power to move. Thanks to propellers distributed on their structure, they can reach speeds of 100 km / h and hover. At low speed, they move with the propellers, while at higher speeds they use the aerodynamic control surfaces. Various projects aim to build on their strengths.


In collaboration with Thales Alenia Space, Omera has been participating in the Stratobus project since April 2016. Between the drone and the satellite, this airship is designed for surveillance and observation missions, carried out from the stratosphere, on a geostationary position. Equipped with solar panels, this airship is autonomous in energy; it revolves around its longitudinal axis to follow the movements of the sun and produce energy continuously. It can thus be operational for a period of one year. The electricity produced by the panels is transmitted to the nacelle, which houses the radars and the batteries. Stratobus maintains its position thanks to its aerodynamic shape and its propellers, whose power is modulated according to the force of the wind. Easy to transport and deploy,

Onera is in charge of studying flight dynamics (flight models, simulation, tool development, piloting, guidance) and its aerodynamics (models, models, wind tunnel tests, calculations of aerodynamic characteristics, including those of propellers).


On January 30, 2019 ended at ONERA the wind tunnel test campaign of a 1:50 scale model of the LCA60T (Large Capacity Airship 60 Tons) of the company Flying Whales.

This rigid airship is intended for the economic transport of a load of more than 60 tons, at low altitude (3000 m), at a maximum speed of 100 km / h. Thanks to its rigid structure, it will allow the carriage of heavy loads, in the hold or under sling, especially in hard to reach areas.With electrically powered propellers spread over the envelope, LCA60T can perform stationary flights to perform loading and unloading operations without having to land.

Onera is involved in the design of this cargo of the airs, through the study of flight dynamics, aerodynamics (fuselage and propellers) and aeroacoustics, which aims to limit noise pollution.

Not very manoeuvrable and particularly sensitive to the wind, the behavior of the airship vis-a-vis the aerological phenomena must be analyzed. Similarly, the impact of environmental conditions (lightning, frost, electromagnetic compatibility) on this machine must be taken into account. Onera intervenes with Flying Whales on these different subjects.

Contact details from our directory:
ONERA Office national d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales Aerodynamic Test Services, Testing Services, Research/Consulting Services, Technical/Eng/Scientific Studies, Wind Tunnels
Related aircraft programs:
Thales Alenia Stratobus
Flying Whale LCA60T
Related directory sectors:
Test Equipment