The classical rigid airship uses a heavy envelope which accounts for the large buoyancy balloon. This comes on account of aerodynamics. My first concept was a thin and long "cigar" where the cockpit, passenger compartment and cargo room are located at opposite ends for balance. A "fishbone" skeleton connects the two ends by passing through the envelope. I quickly abandonned this idea. Later, I thought of another design, where the different compartments are built AROUND the envelope instead.
The rigid airship's skeleton is like a spoked doughnut. It looks like a bicycle wheel but with a wider hoop. The doughnut serves as reinforcement of the envelope and is large enough for passengers. It is not necessary for the whole ring to serve as a passenger lounge. However, putting passengers and cargo at opposite ends will give a good balance.
The advantages I see are:
- Structure serves as lounge and skeleton, therefore reducing material usage and weight.
- placing engines on different areas directly over the skeleton is easy
- the body is circular and lense-shaped, allowing the ship to handle side-winds better.
- the buoyancy balloon is behind the front side and not above it, therefore reducing drag.
- the connection of the balloon to the ship is a long stitch line around the balloon. Therefore, the weight of the ship hanging to the balloon is well distributed along the stitch line.
- the top side is not as curved as that of the conventional airships. This means that solar panels will receive more direct sunlight. Solar-powered airships are already used as unmanned surveillance stations.