2017-04-24 : Possibilities that a new airship design may bring to Kenai include a $10 million hangar, science educational activities, local jobs and a chance to fly liquefied natural gas to remote Alaska.
Founder and CEO Ron Hyde of transportation and contracting company PRL Logistics gave Kenai City Council members an update on Wednesday about his plans to base a Lockheed Martin hybrid airship at PRL’s compound on the south side of the Kenai River mouth, as well as the possibility of moving PRL’s corporate headquarters to Kenai from Anchorage.
In August 2016, the Anchorage-based PRL first announced plans to put Lockheed Martin’s LMH-1 hybrid airship — so called because it generates lift with both an aerodynamic shape and a helium-filled envelope — to work on projects in Alaska. The LMH-1 could make remote areas of Alaska more accessible to smaller companies. Its vertical takeoff and landing ability lets it deliver 47,000-pound cargos to places without landing strips, and its operating cost is lower than planes that can transport comparable cargoes.
Alongside PRL, other organizations began planning to lease the LMH-1 from its licensed operator, the United Kingdom-based Straightline Aviation, in late 2016. These include the Canadian mining company Quest Rare Minerals and the nonprofit radiology group RAD-AID, which plans to use the craft as a mobile radiology clinic in Africa. The 15 airships now under construction in Palmdale, California, will cost about $44 million, Hyde said, and will be ready for use in 2019.
Since the announcement in August, Hyde and his partners have also been developing Alaska missions for the airship. He said his group is working with ExxonMobil on modular liquified natural gas tanks that could be installed in the airship’s cargo bay and used to deliver North Slope gas to isolated communities. PRL is also patenting a portable camp system that can be deployed from the airship, Hyde said.
For work in remote areas, Hyde said that logistics can account for up to half a project’s cost. His goal for the new vehicle is to cut that cost, making economic opportunities in remote Alaska accessible to smaller independent companies that don’t have billions to spend on building airstrips, ports and temporary roads.
“Alaska can’t depend on megaprojects to carry it through, so you’ve got to count on a number of successful small projects,” he said. “Right now, that’s very expensive. If the cost of being able to do remote construction and responsible resource development can be reduced through reducing the logistics cost, some projects that might be close to going may actually go.”
In late May, Hyde said he’d be meeting with President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Transportation to “outline how this ship’s going to be a game-changer.”
“(Trump) has already been briefed, and we’ve provided him with slides and introductions to the technology,” Hyde said.
To house the aircraft in Kenai, PRL plans to build a hangar on the south side of the Kenai River for an estimated $10 million.
“That hangar can also stunt-double — because it can hold 6,000 people in it — potentially as a community center,” Hyde said. “And if that ship is sitting in that hangar for any period of time, then I’ve failed in my mission to have it working on the North Slope and in Western Alaska and other places. So we see some dual benefit there, and we’ll want to work closely with the community to see what kind of design criteria may be useful for that kind of stuff.”
The airship base would hire and train pilots, mechanics and ground crew members. Hyde said he’d try to hire locally.
Along with the airship, Hyde is also considering moving PRL’s accounting, procurement and technical teams from Anchorage to an office in Kenai.
“With the amount of work we’re able to execute down here, it makes sense to have our corporate capabilities located here as well,” Hyde said, adding that Lockheed Martin may also have a small Kenai office in support of the airship.
Other groups could also benefit from the scientific and technical expertise that could accompany the airship to Kenai — Hyde is a board member of Kenai’s Challenger Learning Center, a science education nonprofit, which he said may plan educational activities related to the airship and its makers.
STOURBRIDGE, England, March 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
Straightline Aviation Ltd, operators of Lockheed Martin's revolutionary new Hybrid aircraft, is specifically targeting the Chinese and Asia-Pacific markets. The company, which already has offices in the UK and US is now looking to expand its global presence with a base in the region.
The hybrid aircraft is being heralded as a game changing aviation milestone and is the result of hundreds of millions of US dollars of research and development being focused on reducing the costs of moving freight, particularly in remote locations.
The Hybrid aircraft combines technology from fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and hovercraft and does not need an airport to operate from. It can land on almost any unprepared surface including, water, ice or sand. The first aircraft will carry up to twenty tons of cargo with a range of 1400 miles, with 30% less fuel burn and 80% less carbon emissions than traditional heavy lift helicopters.
Straightline Aviation has already signed a US$850m memorandum of understanding to provide Canadian mining company, Quest Rare Minerals, with seven aircraft and having had significant expressions of interest from customers and investors in the Asia-Pacific region, believes that the Chinese market is ideally suited for the deployment of the Hybrid for similar applications.
The company has appointed Francis Chiew as Managing Director - Asia-Pacific to spearhead development. Francis has extensive experience working across the region and was instrumental in bringing airship operations into China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Australia and Japan during his time with Virgin Lightships. He joins a team of other senior former Virgin executives including founding directors Mike Kendrick, Mark Dorey and David Tait who have unparalleled experience in growing and developing global aviation businesses.
The Chairman of Straightline, Brian Kessler, who has over thirty years of experience working in China, stated, "This new aircraft is ideally suited for operations in China and will revolutionise the way we handle freight. China is a vast country not only comprising large hubs and congested commercial centres but also many remote locations. The Lockheed Hybrid can service main business centres but can also, economically and effectively, move freight to more remote areas, without the need for expensive infrastructure like roads and airports." The Lockheed Hybrid is uniquely suited for China's 'Silk Road' initiatives where roads and airports are not available. He added, "I have enjoyed my experience in China, working with innovative and technology led companies and I am sure that the area will embrace the advantages that this new aircraft offers."
Anchorage, AK - May 25th, 2016 The Contractor of the Year Award for Safety Performance, sponsored by the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, was created to recognize an oil and gas support company that has demonstrated exemplary commitment to safety. To be considered for this award, a company had to demonstrate the highest safety standards, communication of safety policies and employee training, and have an exemplary record of incident-free days.
The 2016 Contractor of the Year for Safety Performance is PRL Logistics, Inc., also known as PRL. PRL truly exemplifies the highest standard of safety, through exemplary communication, training, and modeling safety to the workforce. PRL employees worked more than 210,000 hours on the Point Thomson project in 2015, including 164 cargo flights, 129 coastal barge voyages and more than 44,000 personnel moved via charter with zero lost time incidents and zero recordable incidents. Personal engagement by PRL senior leadership in articulating, modeling, and recognizing safety standards drives safety as a core value through all level of the organization.