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De Beers zeppelin
Gem-mining company De Beers is leasing a Zeppelin-NT airship to hunt for potential diamond deposits in Botswana and South Africa from hundreds of feet up in the air. The rigid dirigible carries high-tech sensors from that conduct geological scans to pinpoint the lower-density rock formations where diamonds may be found. Unlike airplanes, the Zeppelin has a low level of noise and can cruise at low speeds, suitable for the advanced gravity geometry technology.
Zeppelin in flight
The De Beers Zeppelin-NT in flight near Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The airship typically takes off at sunset and flies for six or seven hours a night, when there is less turbulence. It can cover as many as 300 kilometers (about 186 miles) in a day, compared with 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) for a ground crew, according to a survey team member.
The De Beers aircraft is Zeppelin NT-07. The New Technology Zeppelin, which had its maiden flight in 1997, has framework that weighs about a ton. The cabin, engines and other main airship components all connect to the rigid structure, which has triangular carbon fiber frames and three aluminum longerons.