The primary reason that the Arctic has remained largely undeveloped is the difficulty of transportation and logistics in such harsh climates. Current aircraft require large runways, ground crews, and other infrastructures that are difficult or impossible to build and maintain upon constantly changing beds of ice and snow. But a new aircraft, still in development, could make it practical to begin tapping into the wealth of natural and human resources in these remote regions.
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The aircraft, known as Aeroscraft, is a joint effort by the U.S. based aerospace company Aeros and the Iceland based airline Icelandic Cargo. Aeroscraft is a hybrid airship, part ordinary fixed wing aircraft and part lighter than air (LTA) machine. It is capable of true vertical takeoffs and landings, eliminating the need for infrastructure on the ground, such as runways and ground support personnel. It would allow easier transport of things such as oil rigs and equipment, food and supplies, emergency relief supplies, and even troops into remote regions of Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and Siberia.
Aeros has already been testing Aeroscraft at their installation in California. They are preparing to build full size prototypes of the machine, and hope to have the first fully functional machine built by 2016. The goal is to have a fleet of 24 fully functional machines ready by the year 2020.
Though the initial plans for the new aircraft involve moving necessary supplies, equipment, and personnel, there are many broader possibilities for such an aircraft in the future. One day, it could serve as an airborne hotel, or even as a sky yacht for the super wealthy.
Both Aeros and Icelandic Cargo are hopeful that the project will benefit both companies. If the development is successful, it could establish Iceland as a major trade and transportation hub within the arctic region, opening entire new industries for the economy there. [/show_to]
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