Well, the husband is sleeping off today’s activities so for the moment you’re stuck with just lil’ ol’ me.
As best I recall, these are the good points and bad points of LTA flight (that’s both ridgid and non-ridgid varieties)
Among the good points - much more fuel efficient since you’re using power just to go forward, not to hold you up in the air.
Do not require pavement - just a good mooring mast. Much cheaper to build than actual airports or roads.
Bad points - the sheer quantity of lifting gas required. Even if it’s cheap per cubic meter, you need so much that it represents a considerable expense. Now, you can use equipment to reclaim the majority of the gas, but that’s an additional expense and complication. And you always lose some over the course of time.
You need ground crews. Sometimes, you need a LOT of ground crew.
You need pilots trained to operate these things, which don’t fly quite like heavier-than-air craft.
And, like all aircraft, LTA’s are at the mercy of the weather to a degree ground vehicles never are.
In “developed” countries, with their infrastructure of airports, roads, and so forth, and the high price of human labor (those ground crews, remember) there is little incentive to develop this technology (although if petrochemicals ever become REALLY scarce this may change).
However, in locations such as Africa, where there is considerably less infrastructure and human labor is available and cheap, this becomes much more attractive as a transportation technology beyond novelty rides for tourists.
Last I heard, Zepplin NT is looking into cargo-carrying for Africa, among other places. I haven’t heard of passenger carrying, although there’s no reason it couldn’t happen. LTA’s are, however, slower than airplanes. For some cargo, such as what goes by frieght train, cost may be more important than speed, but peopel tend to want to go fast. Passenger carrying may be more likely in the third world if it’s cheaper than airplanes and trains are not as attractive an alternative in the location.
I don’t see why LTA’s would be inherently more dangerous than heavier-than-air flight, it’s just that there have been some spectacular disasters that linger in the public mind without the [Carl Sagan voice] millions and millions [/Carl Sagan voice] of safely flown miles the airlines have to offset the occassional spectacular screw-up.