Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships introduce the next revolution in affordable transportation for heavy lift cargo to remote operating sites. These airships require little to no fixed ground infrastructure and can launch, land and be serviced on unimproved surfaces using an innovative air cushion landing system.
They were some of the first man-made machines to carry people into the sky and became the ultimate way to travel until a series of disasters brought the golden age of airships to an end. Now aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin is hoping to revitalise the use of blimps to deliver heavy cargo and passengers to remote locations around the world. The company has unveiled a prototype of its LMH-1 heavy lift airship at its secretive Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California.
Lockheed Martin has said the airship will be able to carry up to 47,000 pounds, 19 passengers and burn less fuel than conventional aircraft.
The biggest challenge for any company, and in this case, Lockheed Martin and Hybrid Enterprises is changing customers’ perspective about air transportation, Boyd said. “It’s just the acceptance of a new way of doing things,” he said. “It’s more from a business opportunity perspective than a technology perspective. We think it will be a rapidly accepted market.”
The hybrid airship is just the latest entry in the airship market.
In 2014, Montebello-based Worldwide Aeros Corp. christened the Aeros 40D Sky Dragon, a white helium-filled airship that resembled a smaller version of the Goodyear blimp. The airship was sold to Grupo Toyan, a Mexican company that intended to use it to monitor oil pipelines.
A similar airship was sold to the government of Thailand, which has used it for surveillance.
U.K.-based Hybrid Air Vehicles has also developed a 300-foot-long dirigible. The Airlander 10 is intended to carry cargo and can be used for surveillance missions and holds the distinction of the world’s largest aircraft.
The only issue with these types of airships is that the weight they can carry is limited. In many cases it is the Heavy Lift cargo that is in need to get to remote places and they often need to be redesigned in order to make it possible to get them there. If only these airships could carry a weight of up to 500mt it would really help the EPC and Construction industry. The need for passengers is less of a challenge then the cargo side of the remote locations although the inside of the blimp looks impressive.
More information on this airship can be found here: http://lockheedmartin.com/us/products/HybridAirship.html