Aeroscraft manufacturer Aeros announced today the members of its flight test crew, who are now under final preparations for a historic first flight within the coming weeks aboard a new innovative lighter-than-air vehicle designed to transport oversized cargo above the clouds later this decade.
The test flight crew members include airship veteran Corky Belanger as Test Pilot in Command and U.S. Air Force General Raymond Johns as Test Pilot, who will be joined by the Aeroscraft’s inventor and Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak as Flight Test Engineer.
The flight crew will soon make aviation history operating a 266-ft long Aeroscraft proof-of-design engineering vehicle
nicknamed ‘Dragon Dream,’ which will engender a new category of aircraft distinct from the three types of air vehicles in operation today. The ‘’Dragon Dream’ aircraft incorporates an innovative variable buoyancy management system into a scaled down model roughly 1:2 scale of the forthcoming 66-ton cargo payload capacity transport Aeroscraft, or model ML866. The purpose of the flight test program is to evaluate the pilot interface, as well system operation and controllability, as part of ML866 development program.
The Aeroscraft is the only air vehicle of its kind. The rigid, variably buoyancy aircraft will establish new capacity for commercial and military clients as a global logistic solution, establishing the VTOL air cargo market for the 21st Century. The Aeroscraft combines attributes and benefits of fixed wing aircraft like airplanes, rotary aircraft like helicopters and airships such as blimps or aerostats; however, the vehicle is distinct in its aerial operation because of Aeros’ revolutionary and proprietary buoyancy management system, or COSH (control-of-static-heaviness) which enables true VTOL cargo operations.
Alfred ‘Corky’ Belanger is a veteran airships pilot who holds more than 15,000 hours of operational and test experience piloting airships on four continents. Belanger is joined in the Aeroscraft cockpit by General Raymond Johns serving as test co-pilot. Johns retired as a four-star General and Commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC) for the United States Air Force in January 2013. Johns is a Command and Test pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours in over 80 different aircraft who joined Aeros’ flight operations team in August 2013. Igor Pasternak is the CEO of Aeros and Chief Designer of the Aeroscraft, as well as a veteran Flight Test Engineer who participates as a flight crew member on all initial flight tests of Aeros’ aircraft. (See full bios below).
Aeros’ completion of the Aeroscraft “Dragon dream” proof-of-design engineering air vehicle coincides with the achievement of the design, engineering and configuration of Aeros’ ML866 and ML868 model, capable of vertically airlifting 66-tons and 250-ton of cargo. The Aeroscraft ML866 and ML868 will cruise at about 100 knots, yet utilize much less fuel in operation because of the helium- provided lift. These Aeroscraft operate on about 1/3 the fuel consumption compared to comparable fixed wing aircraft. At max payload, the 66-ton ML 866 vehicle can vertically airlift and transport cargo up to 3,100 nautical miles without refueling, flying at a max speed of 120 knots.
The Aeroscraft fleet will be game-changing to the current global transport logistics industry, helping balance economic development and environmental conservation. The “Dragon Dream” has been produced by Aeros in partnership with the US Department of Defense, DARPA and NASA to provide new ways of moving heavy and oversized cargo from point-of-origin to point-of-need, even to areas with damaged infrastructure or those lacking it altogether. The Aeroscraft is a solution to many logistic bottle neck problems, aiding humanitarian crisis response, and doing so with fiscal acuity and energy consciousness.
“In the last couple decades there have been incremental improvements to airship technology, several by Aeros, after a long period lacking innovation; however, no one has been able to answer the big question of how you overcome the external ballast exchange requirements at destination until now, and this changes the game!” explains Test Pilot in Command Alfred Belanger. “I’m excited to be part of this groundbreaking effort that establishes a new type of air vehicle, the Aeroscraft, and thankful to Igor for the opportunity.”
“I’m truly inspired by the people at Aeros who dare to ask, why not? Their professionalism, competency and spirit of innovation have the potential to fundamentally change global logistics. The company’s dedication to a better transportation solution has brought us to this exciting moment in aviation history,” reveals Test Pilot General Raymond Johns. “It is an honor to join with the Aeros team surrounded by such an exciting, commercial and military viable aviation project of this scope and scale.”
“Of course, I’m thrilled to be partnered with these two accomplished aviators as we undertake another major milestone toward introducing a new global logistics paradigm,” adds Flight Engineer and Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak.
The Aeroscraft will be a game changer due to a unique ability to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, hover, and reach locations that have no roads or places to land. The aircraft is similar to a giant ‘flying submarine’ because of a proprietary internal buoyancy management system that compresses inert helium within to overcome traditional requirements for external ballast exchange when unloading cargo from LTA vehicles at destination. This eliminates the need for ground personnel and supporting infrastructure and enables true VTOL flight at maximum payload, as well as new opportunities for commercial industries around the world in solving intermodal logistics and infrastructure development difficulties.
COSH development has opened a new era for cargo logistics for industries around the world, and the benefits of the Aeroscraft are expected to be globally transformational and significant to humanity. The network of globally positioned Aeroscrafts will take the ‘chain’ out of supply chain and give Aeros’ clients unlimited trans-continental reach, on every continent, moving specialty cargo from point-to-point. The Aeroscraft’s advantage is anchored by the ability to place cargo onto nearly any topographical location in the world with pinpoint accuracy, using the proprietary suspension system allowing for aerial cargo placement while hovering above the delivery zone.