, a German company that began in Chapel Hill and has its North American headquarters in Raleigh, is working on a new generation of airships.
Mike Hoyt, communications director for the North American branch of CargoLifter, said the airship's time has come again.
"The ability to carry very heavy loads, with great efficiency, fuel efficiency, low noise levels [makes them appealing]," he said.
In a few years, CargoLifter plans to build a huge homeport near New Bern. A gigantic hangar is planned, 1 1/2 times the size of the SuperDome. It would be similar to an existing hangar near Brand, Germany.
Hoyt said the hangar would be the centerpiece of a complex, which will include a visitors' center.
"It's 1,200 feet long, 35 stories tall. It's a monster. Airships would be assembled in that building. They would be maintained in that building," he said.
CargoLifter's CL-75 Air Crane is now being tested in Germany. Two hundred feet in diameter, it can lift almost 100 tons and will be used in building the MAGLEV Pennsylvania Project.
"We can move the drilling equipment, keep re-locating the drilling equipment along the right of way and then haul the cement," said Tom Boyle, CargoLifter's vice president of marketing and logistics.
The much-larger CL-160 is a few years away. It can haul 175 tons and will be used to position MAGLEV guideways.
"The CL-160 is 855 feet long and 275 feet high, so it's as high as Raleigh's BB&T building," Boyle said.
CargoLifter was the brainchild of a professor at the Kenan Institute in Chapel Hill. He moved the operation to Germany, but he decided to make North Carolina headquarters for the company's North American operation.