Google co-founder Sergey Brin is in the midst of constructing what will become the world’s largest aircraft, a blimp that will supposedly double as both a luxury “air yacht” and a humanitarian aid carrier able to bypass road traffic and airport congestion. Sources close to the project peg the eventual cost at up to $150 million.
The blimp, according to the Washington Post, is being built at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif, and will reach a length of more than 200 yards.
Original plans for the blimp included hydrogen as a lifting gas, a cheaper and more effective alternative to helium. Hydrogen, of course, was the lifting gas used on the Hindenburg, the notorious 1937 aircraft that claimed 36 lives. Today, FAA regulations require all airships to use non-flammable lifting gasses, so the hydrogen plan was scrapped, and helium will be used in its place.
Whether Brin’s luxury blimp is a yacht disguised as a humanitarian vehicle has become a subject of debate.
“A flying yacht that’s also going to do deliver assistance is long on the yacht part and a little short on the humanitarian aid part,” said Rob Enderle, technology industry analyst at the analysis firm Enderle Group, told the Washington Post. “I guess [Brin] was looking for a tax deduction. Maybe he can cut back on taxes and operational costs.”