A French aero-navigational company, Euro Airship, is on a mission to achieve a continuous global circumnavigation of the Earth using a solar-powered airship, as part of their endeavour to test an innovative mode of emissions-free travel. Euro Airship is currently in the process of constructing the Solar Airship One, with the ambitious goal of completing a fossil fuel-free round-the-world journey in under a month.
Operating at an altitude of approximately 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), this cutting-edge aircraft is equipped with a covering of solar panels, batteries and hydrogen fuel cells to generate power both day and night, theoretically enabling it to fly indefinitely.
According to French aerobatic pilot Dorine Bourneton, one of the airship’s pilots, this global flight is not just a display or adventure; it serves as a critical step in advancing their technology. She explained to Flying Magazine, “The good thing is that we’re not doing this world tour flight just for an exhibition or for an adventure… There is an additional process after that for our technology. We’ve been working for the last 20 years in R&D and we self-financed it. Since July 2020, we signed a partnership with Capgemin, and they are helping to develop the industrialisation phase.”
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Engineers at Capgemini have been collaborating with Euro Airship throughout the design, manufacturing and assembly phases of the Solar Airship project. Corinne Jouanny from Capgemini Engineering emphasised, “The Solar Airship project demonstrates that it is possible to catalyse an ecosystem to foster the emergence of sustainable air transport solutions.”
Construction of the Solar Airship One is due to commence this year, with the non-stop flight scheduled for 2026. This initiative represents a part of the new wave of environmentally friendly airships, offering an alternative to traditional aircraft, which contribute to approximately 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to estimates from the International Energy Agency.
In a similar vein, British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles aims to commence flights of its Airlander 10 airship in 2026, while Google founder Sergey Brin is developing the Pathfinder 1 airship as part of his Lighter Than Air venture.