MAI Will Help to Establish Airship Delivery in Yakutia

20 December 2019

MAI Will Help to Establish Airship Delivery in Yakutia

Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University) and the consortium “Airships of Yakutia” offer to use their experience, research and technological groundwork to solve the logistical problems of isolated and remote territories. The project has already received support from the government of the republic. It is planned that airships will carry people and cargo. EastRussia found out, if they will help the transport development of Yakutia. 

New Industry

The topic of using airships in the transport and logistics system not only in Yakutia, but also in Russia, has been discussed for many years. For the republic, the problem of ensuring the transport accessibility of its vast area, and especially its Arctic part, looms large. Many areas are accessible only in winter, when winter roads are operated, or only using aviation. But air transportation is quite expensive, especially when selling northern deliveries, and they repeatedly increase the cost of transported goods and products. One of the possible cheap modes of transport is an airship. The use of such a transport will make it possible to solve issues of accessibility of the Yakut Arctic, population mobility, and optimization of the northern delivery scheme more effectively. 

Last year, the Arctic Innovation Center of the North-Eastern Federal University, together with Dolgoprudnensky Automation Design Bureau, introduced the airship transportation in Yakutia. According to the expert, Dmitry Popov, one of the developers of Yakutia Airships project, Moscow Aviation Institute, together with its partners, is exploring Russian-made materials that can be used in the manufacture of airship sandwich shells on the basis of technical and scientific laboratories.

“So far, there are American and Chinese production technologies. As for engines, Moscow Aviation Institute has the best research and technological groundwork in the world, as well as a test site for airship equipment. Production is planned to be established on the basis of the Dolgoprudnensky Automation Design Bureau,” explained Dmitry Popov.

Research and development work is planned to be financed through the programs of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

“It's about creating a new industry. The work is under way over the national program to create a new industry with the involvement of interested departments and private investors,” Popov added.

Against Shallowing

Deputy of Yakutia parliament Viktor Fedorov considered the idea of ​​using airships in Yakutia interesting. In his opinion, such transportation will be most relevant where runways are not equipped, there are long distances and high costs for the delivery of goods.

“This is an alternative to air, river and road transport. We spend a lot of money on the northern delivery,” said Viktor Fedorov.

The expert Dmitry Popov agreed with him and believed that the prospects for using airships in the region are huge.

“First of all, they are indispensable for the exploration and transportation of minerals, especially in remote Arctic territories of the republic. With the industrial development and supply of the Arctic zone of Russia, airships are indispensable,” the expert said.

In addition, according to Deputy Fedorov, with the help of airships it is possible to solve the problems caused by the shallowing of rivers. In 2013, due to difficult weather conditions, early shallowing of rivers in Yakutia, the navigation period for the transportation of goods was reduced to destinations. Then it was noted that this led to the most difficult northern delivery of goods to the republic in the last ten years. Difficult navigation was on Lena river this year. The plan for the delivery of social goods to the Arctic was on the verge of collapse, it was completed, but with great difficulty. At the same time, Fedorov does not believe that airships can kill regional aviation. 

“The speed of the airships is small. Of course, it will compete with aviation, but will not kill it,” the parliamentarian said.

A lot of “but”

According to Igor Kudryashov, Head of the Bulunsky district of the republic, when using airships, it is necessary to take into account the climatic features of the remote Arctic nomad camps of Yakutia. This applies to strong winds and blizzards. At the same time, he supports the idea of ​​using airships in general.

“There are remote enclave settlements where it is not so easy to get even from the district center. Helicopters are expensive to fly there, and airships would be the perfect solution. This is especially true for the delivery of goods to isolated reindeer herding villages and beasts, ” said Igor Kudryashov.

According to Alexander Vorotnikov, an expert of the Arctic Development Project Office, Associate Professor of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, there are more questions and problems in this subject than ready-made solutions.

“For example, there is no optimal model of an airship for operation in the Arctic, its tests in real Arctic conditions have not been carried out. As a result, there is no industrial production of airships, and most importantly, there are no investments for their creation, and they should be quite large. Industrial production will be established from scratch,” the expert said.

It is assumed that the port infrastructure for airships will be cheaper than for aviation. But there are many “buts”: the delivery of building materials to the Arctic, the construction of gas storage facilities for airships, the degradation of permafrost, the lack of competencies in the building of such structures.


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