Google Founder Launches Airship Prototype

After six years of development, Google co-founder Sergey Brin's airship company, LTA Research and Exploration, has sold an 18-metre long, 12-engined, all-electric aircraft called Airship 3.0 to Nicholas Garafolo, an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Garafolo leads LTA’s research team, staffed students and graduates of UA’s College of Engineering. 

The first prototype, registered in September 2018, was also a 12-engined electric airship, but only 15 meters long, and has undergone flight tests in Akron. Akron was where the US Navy built gargantuan airships in the 1930s, and is still home to the largest active airship hangar in the world.

Buoyancy is a key question - hydrogen is cheap, plentiful and the lightest gas in the universe, but also extremely flammable and difficult to contain. Helium, the next lightest gas, is safely inert, but expensive and increasingly scarce. LTA’s airship, uniquely, will use helium for provide lift and hydrogen to power its electric engines through fuel cells.