Meet the PLIMP: $4m hybrid passenger airship will combine aspects of planes, blimps and helicopters


At first glance, it may look like a blimp – but in fact, the ‘plimp’ combines planes, blimps and helicopters in one.

Its inventors hope a new version of the strange craft could be used to ferry passengers in large cities.

They claim the $4m craft can maneuver like like a plane, hover, take off and land vertically like a helicopter, and fly like a blimp.

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The passenger version of the Plimp will be able to carry up to 8 passengers or 2000 lbs of cargo, and cruise at 63mph, with a range of 1,300 miles.

The passenger version of the Plimp will be able to carry up to 8 passengers or 2000 lbs of cargo, and cruise at 63mph, with a range of 1,300 miles.

The passenger version of the Plimp will be able to carry up to 8 passengers or 2000 lbs of cargo, and cruise at 63mph, with a range of 1,300 miles.

It can carry up to 8 passengers or 2000 lbs of cargo, and cruise at 63mph, with a range of 1,300 miles.

It will take off and land vertically, and the firm boasts pilots can ‘turn the engines off and the Model J gently floats to the ground.’

It also says operational costs are minimal compared to a traditional helicopter.   

Capable of carrying ten people (eight passengers plus crew) or 2,000 lb of cargo (907 kg), it will use electric power for its vertical take-offs and landings, with a hybrid gas/electric system taking over for fixed-wing flight. 

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat. 

‘This is not so complicated as a helicopter,’ James Egan told Geekwire.

‘You’re just using simple parts and putting them together in a different way. 

‘You’re approaching aircraft and flight in a way that’s more akin to a fish in water than it is to an aircraft in the sky.’

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So far, Egan Airships has only tested a 28-foot long prototype drone in California.

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat.

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat.

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat.

The firm is also hoping to build a 19-passenger “flying bus’ using the same technology in the future. 

Seattle-based aviation company Egan Airships previously developed a smaller 28-foot (8.5 meter) long plimp for applications such as agriculture, surveying, border patrol and cinema and commercial filming.   

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat.

The aircraft can take-off and land vertically due to the fact that its propellers face up.

Military versions of the craft have also been planned

Military versions of the craft have also been planned

Military versions of the craft have also been planned

But after take-off, the propellers move into a forward facing configuration, allowing the aircraft to maneuver like a plane.  

‘It’s the size of a moving van and it’s only the weight of a car tire,’ said James Egan, the President and Co-Founder of Egan Airships. 

The plimp drone is remote controlled and can easily be spotted by operators due to its size, allowing someone on the ground to keep it in its sight for up to 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, the company claims.

THE ‘PLIMP’ – APPLICATIONS 

A plane-blimp hybrid that can hover like a helicopter has recently been announced by Seattle-based aviation company Egan Air. 

Due to its range of design features, the plimp aircraft can be used for a number of different applications, such as:

  • Surveillance support and traffic monitoring for police and border patrol
  • Search and rescue operational support
  • Communications relay support for remote or disaster areas
  • Agriculture monitoring and inspection
  • Power transmission line inspection
  • Railway line and pipeline inspection
  • Pollution monitoring and inspection
  • Fishing, wildlife, and forest service support and surveillance
  • Forest fire prevention, early detection, and operational support
  • Mining support
  • Survey and mapping support
  • Military and DoD surveillance and operational support

Source: Plimp

And if it loses power from its electric motors, it slowly glides to the ground, due to its buoyancy. 

Due to its range of design features, the plimp aircraft can be used for a number of different applications, such as search and rescue missions, border patrol, surveying, pollution monitoring, forest fire prevention and detection, and others.

For example, in terms of agriculture, the company claims that since the aircraft ‘hovers and lofts, it is able to safely fly over livestock without the noise of helicopters or crop-dusters.’ 

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan (pictured), can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan (pictured), can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat

The aircraft, developed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan (pictured), can reach a 500-foot (152-meter) vertical altitude and has a helium-filled blimp to keep it afloat

And when it comes to industrial surveying, the aircraft ‘is able to support the weight of cameras used in gas leak detection, and fly’s slow and stable enough to inspect power lines.’  

The plimp aircraft is expected to be commercially available in the first three months of 2018, and will be regulated under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Aircraft Regulations, with approvals to operate over people and at night currently being processed. 

 



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