August 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm #664
I ran across this article a month or two ago about floating airports. While the airports in the article don’t actually “float”, the pictures of them are quite spectacular and well worth taking a look at. Also towards the end of the article is an interesting tidbit about a rotating floating airport invented by Van Den Noort Innovations BV in the Netherlands (not actually built yet). Perhaps a truly floating airport could be turned into the wind, similar to an aircraft carrier, for takeoffs and landings. Food for thought….
-12mileAugust 6, 2008 at 10:33 am #3548
I don´t know about the rotating airport. Seems a lot cheaper and easier just to build a couple of extra runways in different directions, in the form of an X or an asterisk, and you´d achieve pretty much the same thing on the same space withouth the need to rotate the whole thing. Even one single (fixed) runway can deal with all but the most extreme wind conditions, so there is a question of if there is actually a need for this.
An actually floating airport sounds better, but making it rigid or flexible enough to deal with larger waves is an interesting choice and problem. Unless it is in sheltered waters, and then it is probably better to build it on the sea floor than having it float.August 6, 2008 at 11:28 pm #3552
Thank you for the thought here, it is definitely something to consider. Mainlanders coming to visit, new recruits, businessmen, diplomats, etc… all of which will need relatively easy access to the seastead. Seaplanes will only be able to do so much. Though the X pattern would definitely work, the costs would be 4 times that of a singular runway… and more than a small seastead of less than 10,000 people would probably need. Any structure large enough to land a plane, I would think, we need to have motors to aid in it’s movement anyway, so a simple spin of some of them one way, and the rest the other would get the whole airport shifting into the wind for take offs and landings. It’ll be a while, though, before our little sealet manages to appropriate such a structure, I would wager.August 6, 2008 at 11:38 pm #3554
Folks, one of the advantages of a floating airport would be that it AUTOMATICALLY points into the wind when tethered on an anchor. It’s just like a weathervane, or a ship at anchor.August 7, 2008 at 4:39 am #3555
having an airport that has changed direction everytime a pilot returns to it is a really bad idea. Not to mention managing the flight paths will be a nightmare.
The idea of floating runways for anything other than seasteading is really not economical. It’s just cheeper and easier to use reclaimed land.August 7, 2008 at 4:59 am #3556
Obviously aircraft carriers are just floating runways. And yes the military does steer into the wind.
But your point is well taken. People in the marine structures business have been trying to sell a runway that is long enough for a commercial aircraft for decades. Reclaimed land always wins out in these contests.August 7, 2008 at 12:22 pm #3557
I don´t think this would work. The runway would not be able to keep up with the changes in wind direction fast enough. And it would follow the water current rather than the wind unless you put huge sails on it. Again, having an airport that lies exactly in the wind direction is not neccessary. Two choices 180 degrees apart is good enough for the vast majority of flights.August 7, 2008 at 2:40 pm #3558
I hadn’t really considered aircraft carriers, but using them as a basis, building a floating airport doesn’t seem so daunting. You could basically just enlongate a design of a carrier, and make sure everyone is buckled in when the plane catches one of the hooks. Tons of people would sign up just for the jolt of the catapult as the plan gets shot forward on takeoff. About the “changed direction everytime a pilot returns to it”, I think that could be solved by circling the airport that is done now anyways… one may just have to go an extra half way around than normal. True, there will always be crosswinds and eddies and what have you, but by and large, the wind directions should br relatively constant for long enough periods to get a large ship, aka airport, into near optimal position.August 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm #3559
You cannot catapult just any aircraft. I believe they have to be built for the purpose, more or less. But if we are talking about light civilian planes you might not need to. The C-130 Hercules has landed and taken off on/from a carrier in tests, without catapult or arresting hook (probably in very beneficial wind conditions, but still). Purpose built STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft should have no problem using a short floating runway routinely.August 7, 2008 at 4:57 pm #3560
Oh yeah i understand the military don’t have much trouble dealing with the extra dynamics that are involved with carrier landing and taking off.
What makes it unsuitible for commerical use is the lack of training in that aspec of flying commercial pilots recieve. It’s easier for an airline to train its pilots to deal with crosswinds than it is to train them to land on a narrow, short, moving and less stable platforms. Where as the military would find the greater margin of error more acceptable just from the extra capibility to bomb near by countries.
What would make an interesting solution is selling the idea of floating landing strips for more niche markets, other than comercial transport.
Such ideas could include large military ‘aircraft carriers’ or bases to tow and park near conflict areas. Or even disaster relief to some coastal areas which lack suitible existing areas to land in supplies and personel.August 7, 2008 at 10:01 pm #3561
One does seem to learn something new everyday.
Pity, though… I was kinda looking forward to that catapult.August 8, 2008 at 9:13 pm #3564
If you bought a decommissioned aircraft carrier you could probably get the seller to throw in a couple of the largest catapult-able airplanes. I think those radar platform AWACS things are a pretty decent size. Then throw out all the surveillance gear and refit for passenger transport and you´re done! You can even use the carrier as the seastead.August 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm #3565
I know I left that money somewhere… oh, right… that billion must be in my other pants.
I’d like to see how the customizable seasteads go before I plunk my money down on a share of an carrier. Just too many stories from the seaman I know.
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