Airship Industries Skyship 600

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Skyship 600
Airship at Floyd Bennett.jpg
600 on mast at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York
Role commercial non-rigid airship
Manufacturer Airship Industries
First flight 6 March 1984
Developed from Airship Industries Skyship 500

The Skyship 600 is a modern airship, originally designed by British company Airship Industries, further developed by a subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Corporation and now owned and operated by Skyship Services Inc.

The first Skyship 600 made its maiden flight on 6 March 1984.[1] By August 1987 a further six had been built and flown.[2] The Skyship 600 is similar in appearance to, but larger than, the Skyship 500.

Airship Industries collapsed in 1990. Westinghouse Electric's defense arm had taken over the US Navy's airship programme in which Airship Industries was a partner and bought the military marketing rights and intellectual rights to the Skyship designs from the official receiver. Slingsby Aviation, which was the principal subcontractor to Airship Industries bought other assets, marketing rights and intellectual property for civil versions along with the type certificates. Westinghouse purchased the Skyship 600S demonstrator, Airship International -who were to market the civil design in the Americas -bought two unfinished Skyships and Skyship 600-02, and took over the equipment of Airship Industries US arm.[3]

The type certificates for the Skyship 500 and 600 series were purchased in 1996 by United States company Global Skyship Industries and changed hands again in 2011 now being owned by Skyship Services Inc.

Ballonet system inside the airship envelope
Spirit of Dubai – The Palm, on the UK leg of her 2006 tour. Note the scale of the airship from the two technicians standing below her.


Most Skyship 600s have been used for advertising purposes, like 600-05 which flew in 2006-7 as "Spirit of Dubai". In December 2007, a Skyship 600 was leased by supporters of US presidential candidate Ron Paul to fly with the banner "Who is Ron Paul? Google Ron Paul". Others have been used for surveillance purposes, including during the 2004 Summer Olympics. The Skyship's sister ship the Skyship 500 registered G-BIHN was used by the character Max Zorin in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. The Skyship is one of the world's most stable aircraft with an unparalleled endurance capability and as such it is suitable for a variety of missions.

The first Skyship was used for trials with the French Navy. The 2.2 tonne-payload fifth built (600-05) was sold to a Canadian mining company for aerial survey work.[4]


The envelope is fabricated from polyester cloth, coated with saran film for gas retention and polyurethane loaded with titanium dioxide for durability. The gondola is a kevlar-reinforced moulding, suspended from the top of the envelope by kevlar cables. The pilot controls elevators and rudders on the tail surfaces by fore-aft and lateral movement of a yoke, via a manual, cable-operated system. In response to Airship Industries intent to enter the military market,[5] Marconi did start on a system using fibre optics to carry the control signals to electrical actuators. This could reduce pilot workload, make control response more precise but be resistant to electrical interference.[6]

Skyships are equipped with a pair of ballonets, one forward and one aft. Ballonets are air-filled compartments within an airship that compensate for the expansion and contraction of the helium, thereby maintaining envelope pressure. They can be filled, or partially filled, with air. Emptying of air is done through four valves under the envelope. The valves open automatically as the ship climbs; air is released, the ballonets collapse and the helium expands. During descent, air from the propeller ducts, and/or electric fans is used to inflate the ballonets, and keep the envelope from collapsing. The ballonets can be independently filled by using shut-off dampers in the air supply trunking. Through differential inflation a measure of pitch trim can be obtained.[7]

Earlier models were propelled by two Porsche 930 turbocharged piston engines, but some have been modified with Textron Lycoming IO-540 engines. One important feature of this series is thrust-vector control. The ducted propellers can be swivelled in the vertical plane upwards and downwards, providing vertical thrust for use in takeoff, landing and hovering.

GR SK Steigflug.jpg


Ten Skyship 600's have been built and a successor, the Skyship 600B, has been planned. Although ATG received two orders for the Skyship 600B, a higher-performance version of the 600, in its early years, it sold the type certificate for the 600 to Julian Benscher of Global Skyship.

Specifications (Skyship 600)[edit]

Data from Skyship![7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 12 passengers
  • Length: 59 m (193 ft 7 in)
  • Diameter: 15.2 m (49 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 20.3 m (66 ft 7 in)
  • Volume: 6,666 m3 (235,400 cu ft)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Porsche 930 6-cylinder opposed turbocharged piston engines, 190 kW (250 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 112 km/h (70 mph; 60 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 48–80 km/h (30–50 mph; 26–43 kn)
  • Range: 644 km (400 mi; 348 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 2,130 m (6,988 ft)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Rights issue clouds Skyship 600 flight", Flight International, 17 March 1984: 672 .
  2. ^ "SkyShip 600" Airship Heritage Trust.
  3. ^ "Slingsby and US operators split Airship assets", Flight International 138 (4243), 21–27 November 1990: 4 
  4. ^ "Airship Industries sells first Skyship600" (pdf), Flight International, 27 April 1985: 15 
  5. ^ Sentinel Airship Fibre Optic Rotation Transducer
  6. ^ "Making light work of flying Skyship", Flight International, 12 November 1983: 1310 .
  7. ^ a b Rimell,, R.L, Skyship! Renaissance of the British Airship Industry (pdf) (Re-printed in 2005 by Airship Management Services, Inc. ed.), (via Skyship Services) 

External links[edit]