Engineering Research Seminar Series 28_2012: From Concept to Reality in under a month: Design and Flight Demonstration of a Remotely Controlled Airship

Prof. Rajkumar S. Pant from Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT Bombay

Date: 2012-11-23
Time: 10:00 to 11:00
Venue: Classroom 9-3-03


Airships are a class of aerial vehicles that derive their lift force primarily due to the buoyancy of a lighter-than-air gas (e.g. H2 or He). This talk will start with a brief introduction to airships and their relative merits and demerits with respect to aircraft. It will then provide details of a recently completely project in which a remotely controlled airship was designed, fabricated and demonstrated within a tight time span of under a month after receiving the go-ahead. The main design requirement for this airship was to be able to operate from the Helipad in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. The images of the terrain below were recorded during the flight, and transmitted in real-time to a ground based system using an onboard telemetry system. The talk will describe the methodology for sizing of the envelope and key components of the airship, and the procedure followed for in-house fabrication and testing of the airship at IIT Bombay. The major issues that cropped up during the operation of the airship in harsh weather conditions of rain and mild snow, as well as in night time will also be highlighted. The flight demonstration established the efficacy of remotely controlled airships for aerial photography and data collection by snow scientists. 

About the Speaker

Prof. Rajkumar S. Pant has Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering. His areas of specialization include Aircraft Conceptual Design Air Transportation, and Optimization. He has been a member of faculty of Aerospace Engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay since December 1989.  Prof. Pant is an alumnus of College of Aeronautics, Cranfield University, UK, where he earned his Ph.D. under Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, and IIT Madras where he did his Masters in Aeronautical Engineering. He has also worked for five years in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.  In 2004, he set up a Lighter-Than-Air (LTA) systems laboratory at IIT Bombay, which has undertaken several R&D and Consultancy projects related to design, development and demonstration of LTA systems. Since 2007, he has been an international member of AIAA’s Lighter-Than-Air Technical Committee. He has published and presented around 85 scientific papers in international journals and conferences. He was a visiting faculty at Department of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2010-11, and a visiting researcher at Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, Brazil in 2012, Texas A&M University in 2011, Cambridge University in 2008, and Imperial College London in 2006.