Aviation crisis: when will the zeppelins come?

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Airships are much more environmentally friendly than airplanes, but society would have to slow down first

The corona crisis is now also reaching the aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Since the airlines have to mothball their aircraft in rows, the European group expects its sales to decrease by 40 percent in the next two years. The reports the news platform finanzen.net citing the world.

We are talking about 15,000 employees who would have to take their hats off. All locations would probably be affected, because the company wants to continue all production lines. Production is mainly in France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, but also in China. The industrial union metalworking instead of layoffs demand shorter working hours for everyone.

The company’s shares have lost about half their value since the beginning of the year, but reacted to the news of possible impending layoffs at the beginning of the week with a price increase of 2.56 percent. Everyday crisis in a “market-conform democracy”. Organizations like that ATTAC network have been calling for a tax to be introduced for around 20 years Financial transactions. These could be used to skim off at least part of the speculative profits that some obviously hope for.

Meanwhile, the question arises as to how to continue with aviation after the crisis. While the German government does not impose any conditions on its nine billion euros in support for Lufthansa, Paris has at least asked Air France to forego some of the short routes and to use synthetic fuels that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, this will not be enough for climate-neutral air traffic. Large aircraft are not only contributing to the climate crisis through their fuel consumption. Part of the problem is also the water vapor contained in the exhaust gases, which leads to the formation of contrails at the usual flight altitudes of ten to twelve kilometers. These have a warming effect like veil clouds by allowing most of the sunlight to pass through, but shielding the infrared radiation from the ground and the lower layers of the air.

Ultimately, air traffic would have to be replaced by rail and ship traffic on the one hand and the reintroduction of zeppelins on the other. These could be operated electrically and use the sun directly, among other things, via solar systems.

But even with internal combustion engines, their greenhouse gas emissions would be much lower than that of airplanes. The reason: they are kept in the air by the buoyancy of helium and therefore use much less energy. They also fly significantly lower, so they don’t cause a veil-cloud problem.

Correspondingly thin and light solar cells for supply during the flight already exist and various companies have been working on the development of for years Airships, not least for the transportation of goods to remote regions. However, the market and thus the demand is small and government support is usually low, if at all.

For example, the time-honored Zeppelin AG with their Zeppelin NT An apparently working technology has been available for years, but so far there has been a lack of capital-intensive demand to build larger ships and open regular services.

In addition to one or the other technical development, there is above all a rethink and, above all, a different time economy. Because of course Zeppelins and other airships are slower than jet planes. But maybe it is time to think about whether the speed frenzy of modern society is a big destroyer of quality of life and individual freedom.

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