UK-based Hybrid Airship owner and operator Straightline Aviation is embarking upon a strategic partnership with PRL Logistics Inc., a leader in remote site logistics, which will see the first helium-buoyed hybrid airships introduced in Alaska.
The new partnership will introduce the world’s first heavy-lift Hybrid Airships – the LMH-1 developed and built by Lockheed Martin.
Hybrid Airships combine the technology of lighter than air aircraft with airplanes, helicopters and hovercraft. Helium provides 80% of the lift, and the remaining lift comes from the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft and its four thrust vectoring engines.
The airship also features a unique hovercraft-like Air Cushion Landing System that facilitates taxiing and holds the craft firmly on the ground.
The LMH-1 has the ability to land on virtually any surface including snow, ice, gravel and even water; such airships will provide low cost and environmentally friendly solutions for moving freight and personnel to the most isolated regions of Alaska and Northern Canada.
“Lockheed Martin would be proud to have its Hybrid Airships operating in Alaska,” said Rob Weiss, Executive Vice-President and General Manager, Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (Skunk Works®).
“Alaska is an ideal location for the Hybrid Airship to operate. The airship enables access to Alaska’s most isolated regions, and is designed to protect the sensitive ecological environment.”
Straightline Aviation is purchasing the aircraft through Hybrid Enterprises, the exclusive worldwide reseller of Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships. The first aircraft are to be delivered in 2019 and will carry up to 22 tons of freight, along with 18 passengers plus crew.
Brian Kessler, Chairman of Straightline Aviation added, “We are equally thrilled to enter into this alliance with PRL and merge our understanding of airship operations with their unique knowledge of logistics, working in some of the most unforgiving terrain and conditions on the planet. Together we will usher in a new environmentally friendly age of air transport.”
PRL Logistics is founded, owned and operated in Alaska, and Airship operations will be based at the PRL Logistics Operations Centre in Kenai, Alaska and supported by other PRL locations throughout the state. PRL’s premier Kenai Facility has overland, marine, and aviation access and will also be the base operations centre for the Hybrid Airship.
“PRL’s understanding of the complexities of working in Alaska’s extremely remote sites, our partnership with Straightline Aviation, whose airship operating experience is unparalleled, means this will be a true game changer. It affordably opens up many projects currently inaccessible without the development of the costly infrastructure required by traditional modes of transportation,” enthused Ron Hyde, PRL CEO.