Greenflight World Link Initiative

SUMMARY: Sustainable transportation is a fundamental requirement of humanity. The Green Flight World Link Initiative is centered upon the design of the Skylite 500 GeoShip™, a comprehensively engineered geodesic airship employing synergistic technologies for maximum efficiency, environmental compatibility, and robust continuous operation. By coupling this breakthrough with methods to create sustainable business models in the developing world, we can dramatically improve the efficiency, environmental quality, health, and productivity of remote impoverished communities around the globe.

The GeoShip™ provides long-range (>15,000 km) heavy-lift (500-1000 Metric Tons) transportation of cargo and passengers within a rigid geodesic hull, using helium for lift, high-efficiency ducted electric fans for propulsion, and powered by photovoltaics and flex-fuel microturbine generators. Patent pending differential thrust, buoyancy control, and biomimetic hull dimensions optimize efficiency by reducing drag, eliminating the need for tail-fins, and allowing operations in austere locations that lack preexisting infrastructure. The hull will be formed of geodesic triangular facets fabricated from recycled PET and braced by braided carbon-fiber frames and struts that form an omniradial load distributing tetrahedral truss. With thin film solar cells embedded in the hull surface, over 5 megawatts of power are available for onboard use.

We realize that the creation of a new fleet of high efficiency vehicles, even on the scale of the GeoShip™, will not bring the necessary change without operating in a context of geographically specific, culturally congruent sustainable business models. By following the Base of the Pyramid Protocol developed at the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, we empower rather than exploit candidate communities through engagement in a deep dialog to create a framework of responsive practices, complementary and synergistic services, and new partnerships that facilitate a transportation network supportive of sustainable, fair-trade goods that best meet the urgent needs of the community. It is through this consilient comprehensivist approach that we best ensure economic, as well as social and environmental progress.

PROBLEM SPACE: Robust buoyant flight serving the needs of the developing world blends the best in efficient green technology and inclusive participatory sustainable business creation. By significantly reducing green house gas emissions and lowering transportation costs, while simultaneously diminishing the demand for intrusive roads in pristine environments, we help to lift the poor without ecological degradation. Just as cell phones have leap frogged land lines in Bangladesh, the GeoShip™ can leap frog costly road, bridge, and port networks. Moreover, the Green Flight World Link Initiative is scaleable and flexible, with each GeoShip™ providing a sustainable means of transportation and an airframe life in excess of 30 years. As demand for this form of transportation grows, more airships can be manufactured. As land use patterns evolve, routing can be adjusted. While the component technology is thoroughly tested we employ it synergistically to reap significant benefits and open new possibilities

SOLUTION: The conceptual and preliminary design phases of the Skylite 500 GeoShip™ have been lead by Mike Voorhees of Skylite Aeronautics over several years, with additional technical assistance provided by NASA’s Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program and the University of Central Florida. The scope of work necessary for detailed design completion, FAA certification, manufacturing and assembly planning, and concept of operations, test, and evaluation has been defined through four levels of a comprehensive work breakdown structure, comprising 49,000 hours and nominally slated for a 24 month effort. This has been reviewed by both subcontractor business partners and evaluated by DARPA to be technically credible and financially reasonable.

The second edition of “The Base of the Pyramid Protocol” was authored by Erik Simanis and Stuart Hart of Cornell University’s S. C. Johnson School of Management, with corporate funding for its initial development graciously provided by DuPont, SC Johnson, Tetra Pak, and Hewlett-Packard. Institutional funding and support was provided by Cornell University, the University of Michigan, William Davidson Institute, World Resources Institute, and the Johnson Foundation.

Funds received will directly assist in covering expenses associated with an iterative concurrent approach to vehicle design and base of the pyramid business plan development. Simultaneously, we will expand our partner network to provide a sustainable supply chain of materials, components, and subsystems, as well as ancillary support services that augment the impact of the project. The publicity of winning the Buckminster Fuller Challenge will aid in our outreach efforts, provide additional validation of the mission and its scope, and help to further leverage the prize monies with private and corporate investment funds.