Lockheed signs airship freighter marketing deal

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Lockheed Martin has appointed Hybrid Enterprises as its reseller for what the defence company calls its hybrid airships, which the companies hope to start delivering from 2018.

The deal was signed at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday 16 June by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president, Orlando Carvalho, and Hybrid Enterprises’ chief executive officer, Rob Binns. Hybrid Enterprises claims the airships can deliver heavy cargo and personnel to almost anywhere in the world. The companies say a 20 tonne variant is being tested at Lockheed’s Palmdale (US) facility.

Carvalho says: “We’ve invested more than 20 years to develop the technology, prove the performance and ensure there are compelling economics for the Hybrid Airship.” He adds that Lockheed has completed all the planning stages required by the US government’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is ready to build the first commercial model and get FAA certification.

Binns says: “Lockheed Martin’s hybrid airships will significantly reduce the cost and environmental impact of remote operations.” Lockheed says that while the airships are slower than conventional aircraft, fuel consumption is significantly lower and is faster than land and sea transport. It says its airship burns less than one tenth the fuel of a helicopter per tonne.

Hybrid Enterprises claims the airship can carry up to 21 tonnes, has a range of 1,400 nautical miles and a cruise speed of 60 knots. It says the airship is designed for cargo and flexible for outsized cargo. Hybrid Enterprises says the airships need minimal infrastructure and have low carbon emissions.

Other companies have been testing similar airships, including UK based Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), and US firm, Aeros. In April 2015, HAV launched a crowdfunding effort to raise £2 million ($3.1 million) to develop Airlander 10, which will have a 10 tonne cargo capacity. In May, Aeros announced that the United States’ Patent and Trademark Office had awarded it a patent for its ballast system.