One of the more promising heavy lift lighter-than-airship firms has filed for insolvency after running out of cash. In May, the German company Cargolifter was forced to ditch plans for its flagship project after neither banks, the government nor investors came forward to bail it out. Under the 7 June insolvency filing, the Berlin-based company will be protected from its creditors while a court-appointed administrator attempts to turn the company around. If the administrator succeeds, Cargolifter's heavy cargo carriers could still see the light of day but failure would result in the 500-employee firm's liquidation.
The Cargolifter was the idea of a German industry commission set up to find new ways of carrying huge unwieldy loads around the world, with the CL160 to be twice the volume of the original Zeppelin and filled with non-flammable helium rather than hydrogen. Not since the Hindenberg has a large airship been considered commercially viable. In March, CargoLifter announced its first sale of a transportation balloon to Heavy Lift Canada Inc. for transporting oil-field equipment in Canada's arctic regions and Alaska. Due to be delivered in December, the company has an option to purchase 25 more for $10 million each.
From a military perspective, the airship's ability to transport MBT-sized loads at tank carrier speeds was promising enough to warrant an article in the March-April 2000 issue of ARMOR Magazine (the United States Army Armor Corps publication). - Adam Geibel
Cargolifter's planned CL160 Airship
* 260 meters long
* 550,000 cubic meters volume
* Payload up to 160 tons
* Transportation speed 90 kph
* Range 10,000 km
Keeping Our Options Open: Another Possibility for Heavy Force Deployments
Captain John S. Wilson