UPLIFT: The Rationale

2 Apr

Putting together the document right now. Why is this completely crazy idea worth thinking about?  What are the benefits to all parties?

Read on. Comments are welcome, as always.



The number of displaced persons, worldwide: 26 Million [1]{Displaced because of war only, does not include “several million” environmental refugees.}

People affected by disasters: 201 Million [2]

  • 405 natural disasters were reported worldwide in 2007.
  • The estimated cost of damage inflicted by natural disasters in 2007 is nearly $63.5 billion.
  • The combined total of 23,167 people killed by natural and technological disasters was the lowest of the decade, far below the decade’s average of 113,000.[2]

963 million people live without sufficient food. (25,000 of them die due to hunger or related causes) [3]

Organizations such as the Red Cross, World Food Program provide aid to these millions of people in need.  The recent increases in food and fuel costs have led to the necessity of aid rationing.  In addition, transportation is often difficult due to lack of infrastructure, or obstacles resulting from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes.

As an illustration of transport difficulties in the DRC, even before wars damaged the infrastructure, the so-called “national” route, used to get supplies to Bukavu from the seaport of Matadi, consisted of the following:

In other words, goods had to be loaded and unloaded eight times and the total journey would take many months.[4]*

Extensive road building and rail rehabilitation through the challenging terrain would take decades.

India, China and the Middle East have invested heavily into infrastructure in a number of African countries, including Angola, Togo and the DRC.[5]



A number of entities, from Boeing to DARPA in the US, to ISO Polar in Canada, have been pushing the agenda on lighter than air technology in the last decade.  Research into the viability of airships has been done continuously for at least the last 30 years. *NASA Report on airships for coastal surveillance and




In recent years, airship development of a brand new transportation sector with a wide range of possible applications.

These include:
–    Hauling fuel and supplies in northern (arctic) and desert regions
–    Freight from China to markets around the world
–    Monitoring the Arctic, jungles
–    Luxury cruises (13 million cruise passengers a year)
–    Bringing health and happiness (Development) to the developing world.

*A modern airship, traveling at 225 km/h would complete the trip from Matadi to Bukavu in 7 hours.


2 Responses to “UPLIFT: The Rationale”

  1. Michael Keizer April 5, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I think you will need to simplify this drastically. I probably understand what you are trying to say, but only because I have followed your posts over the last couple of weeks; without this background information, people will not be able to understand your business case.

    I think your pitch is quite simple (but correct me if I am wrong):
    – Cost per kg.km for an airship is much lower than for a helicopter, and probably even lower than for a wide-body plane.
    – Airships can reach areas that cannot be reached by plane, especially bigger ones with higher payloads and lower costs per kg.km. Because of this, supply chains can be simplified and hence cost further decreased and speed and flexibility increased; all three are critical factors in aid operations.
    – The environmental impact of an airship is lower than any other type of air transport.

    Good luck again!

    – Michael

  2. caseywong April 6, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    You’re right, that is it, essentially. I’ve been trying to find the right facts to back up those points.
    Thanks again for all your comments. They’ve been very helpful.

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