Although there have been oscillations in airship interest since their use in the early 1900s, technological advancements and the need for more flexible and environmentally friendly transportation modes have caused a stream of study and surge in airship development in recent years. For companies and governments to understand how airships can be incorporated into their fleets to fulfil new or existing mission types, system design space exploration is an important step in understanding airships, their uses, and their design parameters. A decision support system (DSS), Design Exploration of Lighter-Than-Air Systems (DELTAS), was developed to help stakeholders with this task. DELTAS allows users to design airships and missions to determine how a design will perform in the scenario. Simulations can also be run for a given mission to find the Pareto-optimal designs for user-defined ranges of high-level airship design parameters. A case study is provided that demonstrates how DELTAS can be used to explore the airship design space for three specified missions. These three mission case studies show how design of experiments is important to more thoroughly cover the design space and to find and understand the relationships between airship design variables that lead to optimal mission times and costs. This research also explores the impacts of introducing an airship into operation. Engineered products have economic, environmental, and social impacts, which comprise the major dimensions of sustainability. This paper seeks to determine the interaction between design parameters when social impacts are incorporated into the concept development phase of the systems design process. Social impact evaluation is increasing in importance similar to what has happened in recent years with environmental impact consideration in the design of engineered products. Concurrently, research into new airship design has increased. Airships have yet to be reintroduced at a large scale or for a range of applications in society. Although airships have the potential for positive environmental and economic impacts, the social impacts are still rarely considered. This paper presents a case study of the hypothetical introduction of airships in the Amazon region of Brazil to help local farmers transport their produce to market. It explores the design space in terms of both engineering parameters and social impacts using a discrete-event simulation to model the system. The social impacts are found to be dependent not only on the social factors and airship design parameters, but also on the farmer-airship system, suggesting that socio-technical systems design will benefit from integrated social impact metric analysis. This thesis seeks to demonstrate how computer-aided engineering tools can be used to predict social impacts, to more effectively explore a system's design space, and to optimize the system design for maximum positive impact, using the modern airship as a case study.



College and Department

Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





airship, systems engineering, decision support system, discrete-event simulation, design space exploration, social impact, sustainable design



Included in

Engineering Commons