Thursday, July 3, 2008
Boeing and the Blimp?
Some of us who headed to Montreal in early May for the American Helicopter Society International's annual gathering were intrigued by hints that Boeing would break some news there. Specifically, a well-informed insider or two at the Army Aviation Assn of America yearly convention a month earlier had said Boeing was on the verge of unveiling a partnership aimed at fielding a lighter-than-air, heavy-lift concept. AHS's Technical Forum in Montreal was likely to be the venue for an announcement, given the forward-looking, technical nature of that event. There was some thought that the company envisioned pairing a version of a blimp with its Chinook helicopter--or dynamics components from it. Whatever the form of the aircraft, its objective would be to satisfy heavy-lift requirements of the U.S. Army and other military services that threaten to rapidly exceed the capabilities of traditional rotorcraft. Those requirements remain in a high state of flux. But the Technical Forum came and went with no announcement; word was the Boeing was still ironing out the details of the partnership. So the question lingers: Whence Boeing's blimp? For related news