Oxbridge airship link proposed

first_imgPLANS to establish a Varsity airship have been announced by a new company.Using the ‘SkyCat Hybrid Air Vehicle’, World SkyCat Ltd will directly link Oxford with Cambridge, cutting commuting time between both cities by two-thirds.The SkyCat will transport up to two coach-loads of people at a time, at a cost of less than twenty pounds per passenger in under an hour.The planned airship uses a combination of technologies which, according to Gordon Taylor of Hybrid Air Vehicles, means it can land on a variety of terrains including water and fields. Taylor suggests that this will save money by not requiring any expensive ground infrastructure; and could offer an alternative to existing forms of transport between the two cities by offering a direct connection. Currently, the only direct connection between the two university cities is by National Express coach, a journey that takes over three hours, while the quickest train routes are via London and take over two and half hours.“There’s a significant market for point-to-point travel that negates the need to travel to London,” Taylor said. “We think there is a market for our product to do something linking Oxford and Cambridge.”The SkyCat is also environmentally friendly, using less fuel than existing means of transport. “The aerodynamic shape makes the craft very lift efficient and therefore it has both a big body and is very light, meaning it needs very little power to make it go,” Taylor added. “It produces at least one-fifth less emissions than if the equivalent passenger numbers were on an aeroplane.” So far, however, lack of finance has hampered the company’s attempts to begin the project. Michael Stewart, Chief Executive of World SkyCat, cited the expensive collapse of a similar programme as an example of the idea’s dangers. “The light-aircraft service that recently started up from Kidington but sadly folded was quite expensive, and perhaps that contributed to its failure,” he said.Stewart hopes that the programme may go ahead in the future. “If you could be sure the market existed, though, it could be really good fun,” he said. “These airships are quite spacious and with a new design we’re working on, you could have bars, viewing galleries and entertainment areas as well as just seating.”By Jake Whittallast_img read more