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03 February 2010

Seymourpowell introduces the Aircruise – a clipper in the clouds

Seymourpowell introduces theAircruise – a clipper in the clouds

Visionary concept work for Samsung C&Texplores the future of travel and transport

London,UK - Leading design and innovation company Seymourpowellis pleased to unveil full details of its visionary transportation concept, Aircruise - a giant,vertical airship powered by natural energy and designed to carry travellers instyle and luxury.

Originallya self-generated project, Seymourpowell’s Aircruise is theconcept design for a hotel in the sky, with low passenger numbers and hugeinternal spaces offering room for living, dining and relaxing, as well as scopefor dramatic and inspirational public spaces. The initial design proposes abar/lounge zone, four duplex apartments, a penthouse and five smallerapartments.

The conceptsubsequently captured the imagination of Korean giant Samsung Construction andTrading (C&T). Driven by its interest in new materials for building,Samsung C&T appointed Seymourpowell to refine the idea and produce adetailed computer animation of the proposed experience to illustrate this visionaryapproach to the future. The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP15Vgt55Gk

Seymourpowell’sAircruise concept presents an alternative take on the future, suggesting ‘slowis the new fast’.  Nick Talbot, designdirector at Seymourpowell explains, “The Aircruise concept questions whetherthe future of luxury travel should be based around space-constrained, resourcehungry, and all too often stressful airline travel. A more serene transportexperience will appeal to people looking for a more reflective journey, wherethe experience of travel itself is more important than getting from A to Bquickly.”

OnAircruise, it is the very abundance of time and space that defines the luxuryexperience. In a world where speed is an almost universal obsession, the ideaof making a leisurely journey in comfort is a welcome contrast. Talbotexplains, “The physics of the airship requires a gigantic volume of liftinggas, yet simultaneously demands a relatively limited amount of weight. Thisallows for a potentially large amount of space with relatively few peopleonboard – a luxury for any traveller.”

Talbotadded, “It’s a world cruise not limited to the ocean, offering instead thedream-like quality and absolute freedom of flight. Passengers can choose to dinethousands of feet above a city, or take in the view whilst moving through theair over the ocean or a national landmark.”

Lifted byhydrogen and powered by solar energy, the Aircruise concept also has obviousenvironmental benefits. Seung Min Kim, design director at Samsung C&Tcommented, “This was a dream concept project for us, helping to realise afuture of sustainable buildings combined with innovative and luxury lifestyle.In an age when environmental impact is a key consideration for architecture, weare keen to extend this vision of the future by searching for solutions thatcan be realised by 2015 – the year that many futurologists foresee as theturning point for the future.”

Althoughonly a conceptual proposal, the transportation design team at Seymourpowelldeveloped a detailed and achievable technical specification for the craft. Seebelow for further technical details.



For furtherinformation contact:

Tim Duncan

PR Global,Seymourpowell

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7386 2369


Full casestudy available at http://www.seymourpowell.com/#/case_studies/34/

Images available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/seymourpowell/sets/72157623175424001/



Proposedconceptual specifications for Aircruise as follows:

From thedocking rig at the base to the tip, the ship is 265 metres tall. Hydrogen, thelightest gas, is used as the lifting gas, and is capable of lifting around1.2Kg per cubic metre of volume. Large PEM hydrogen fuel cells will provide onboard power and some drinking water.

The volumeof the main envelope in the ship is calculated at 330,000 cubic metres, whichequals 396,000 Kg of available lift at sea level (1,000Kg = 1 Tonne (t)).


Primarystructure, envelope and systems            270t(reference – around the same weight as an airbus A380 super jumbo, emptyweight)

Consumables,water, ballast etc                        20t

People(estimate max 100 people on board)            15t

Controldeck and staff (20 staff)                        6t

Bar/Lounge/communalzone fit out                        15t

4 Duplexapartments at 5t each                        20t

Penthouseapartment                                                12t

5 smallerapartments at 4t each                        20t

Total loadfactor                                                 378t

Availablelift excess is therefore 18-20t or 20,000Kg of lift.

Part of therenewed interest in airships derives from advances in materials, structures,stabilisation and clean propulsion technologies. Utilising composite frames andfabrications, lightweight semi flexible structures can be built at largescales. Although large, this is nevertheless a semi rigid ship, the primarytensioned structure consisting of 8 vertical composite lattices supporting fourmain flexible envelopes, which contain 330,000 cubic metres of hydrogen gas.Lower decks are ‘hung’ off these primary supports.

Each of the4 external envelopes contains modular self-sealing lifting bags, minimising theincidence of bag rupture and ensuring safe flight even with a major externalskin rupture.

Automaticstability thrusters and altitude control using automatic adjustment of the gasdensity ensures a smooth ride compared to previous airships. Although stillsusceptible to storms and very poor weather, advanced weather radar and weatherprediction systems allow the ship to route around major problems.

Despite theperceived risks, hydrogen is used for its inherent lifting efficiency and as apower source. Flexible photovoltaic (solar panel) cells cover the upper part ofthe envelope, augmenting the primary power generation, in this case from fuelcells. Large surface area PEM fuel cells generate the primary power for onboard systems and turn low speed compressors located in the mid section of theship. This compressed gas is ducted to provide directional thrust and autostabilisation. Compressed hydrogen stored in parts of the main structureprovides fuel for longer ranges and by venting to the envelope orre-compressing these volumes, altitude stability is achieved.

Bycombining the lifting gas and the fuel for thrust the overall weight of theship can be minimised, whilst ensuring a silent, pollution free passage. Watervapour is harnessed to augment on board potable water.

The serviceceiling is limited to 12,000 feet, given the attenuation of the atmosphere (thehotel is not pressurised) and the limits of gas expansion within the envelope.If however, there are specific locations of interest en route, the ship candrop down to within a few hundred feet of the ground.

Cruisingspeed without tail or headwind is 100 – 150 Km/hr. This equates to journeytimes that are appropriate to the cruise experience: London to New York in 37hours; Los Angeles to Shanghai in 90 hours.

Six-flightcrew will include two flight engineers, and will fly the ship in shifts, giventhe likely cruise durations. 14 support staff will run the hotel experience forthe guest passengers.

AboutSeymourpowell – the shape of things to come

Alreadywell established in transport design through large-scale projects for MidlandMainline and Bell Helicopters, Seymourpowell is also the group behind theworld’s first hydrogen fuel cell bike, ENV, developed for Intelligent Energy.Like ENV, Aircruise is another example of the group’s method of working backfrom the future – conceiving ideas for products, behaviors and desires thatcould be, and then developing them for the present day.

Seymourpowell is one of the world’s leading design and innovation companies.Founded in 1984 by Richard Seymour and Dick Powell, the London-based group ofaward-winning designers has produced some of the ‘milestone’ products of thelast two decades. The company is now part of the Loewy Group.
Seymourpowell is currently 80 people, combining a design studio, researchcentre, materials library and prototyping workshop.
Seymourpowell has a unique holistic approach to design and innovation, whichcombines in depth experience and up to date intelligence about people, marketsand businesses. The company has the ability to forecast and interpret the vitalimplications of behaviors and work out future scenarios to give its clients theconfidence and reassurance they are making the right decision.
Seymourpowell is skilled in exploiting ideas that create real value and alwayslook to move clients forward creatively. Seymourpowell is not just a company ofvisionary thinkers, but future ‘doers’. Ultimately, Seymourpowell is about makingthings better: better for people, better for business and better for the world.
Specialisms include design innovation, transportation design, ethnographic userresearch, strategy and new product development (NPD), trends and forecasting,product design and development, 3D structural design and 2D graphic design