London, England – March 16th, 2016 – UK-based Straightline Aviation (SLA) will pilot an aviation revolution as a game-changing new generation of giant helium-filled heavy-lift cargo and passenger aircraft readies to take to the sky.

Brian Kessler, Chairman Straightline Aviation
Brian Kessler, Chairman Straightline Aviation

It has attracted early funding from well known US entrepreneur Brian Kessler who has been invited to take the Chairmanship of the company.

An entirely new breed of hybrid aircraft is well into development in the UK by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) in Cardington, Bedfordshire, and simultaneously in the USA by the California-based Lockheed Martin Corporation. SLA will supply and operate the aircraft, providing pilots, operational expertise, training and logistical support to the wide range of business sectors for which these hybrid aircraft represent a new low cost transportation option to remote areas of the planet and will compete in the passenger carrying sector on established short haul routes.

“No airport, no problem” said Straightline co-founder and CEO Mike Kendrick. “These aircraft will transport cargo and passengers to previously inaccessible locations around the globe. The first versions will carry up to 20 tons of freight as well as passengers but they are scalable to many times that number. They can land almost vertically on unprepared ground, grass, sand, snow or even water and, as they are not lighter than air, have excellent ground handling characteristics.” He continued, “For industries working in the kind of austere sites common to oil and gas exploration, these aircraft eliminate the need to construct prohibitively expensive airports and roads that permanently scar the landscape and they do it at much lower operating costs. These hybrid aircraft also facilitate affordable air access in developing nations lacking the infrastructure to support traditional forms of passenger and freight transportation, significantly reduce costs of air travel while their 70% lower fuel emissions and low carbon footprint also make it a win-win for the environment.”

Both manufacturers are already well underway with the aircraftcertification process in their respective countries and anticipate first deliveries in 2018. Straightline is already in negotiations with several potential launch customers and anticipates placing its initial aircraft orders in the near future.

Based in the UK with offices in New York, and Los Angeles, founding team includes a group of highly experienced airship and aviation executives:

Chairman, Brian D. Kessler who is based in Los Angeles is an inveterate inventor who has always has a passion for ‘entrepreneurial innovation’. Presently Managing Partner of SBL Capital he founded and built Maui Toys to being the world’s third largest toy manufacturer and sees Hybrid flight as ‘the next big thing’ in aviation.

When asked about the name ‘Straightline Aviation’ Kessler responded, “It’s what we’re about – the shortest distance connecting two points is a straight line - which is exactly what these aircraft offer. No loading on to trucks, then on to ships or airplanes, then back on to trucks or trains to get to the final destination. By going in a straight line from A to D we eliminate the multiple-handling costs and time at B and C as well as the expensive road and airport infrastructure requirements and… “ he emphasized with a grin, “we do all this at a lower cost and an incredibly low carbon footprint. What’s not to love about that?”

 CEO Michael Kendrick has a uniquely deep-rooted understanding of the airship business having founded and headed up the Virgin Airship and Balloon Company in partnership with Sir Richard Branson: an operation that grew to operate the world’s largest fleet of airships in 30 countries. He was also flight Director of Sir Richard Bransons record breaking balloon flights. “Hybrids”, he says, “are heavier than air, a sort of cross between large airship and Jumbo jets. This makes them far easier to operate than airships and less expensive to operate than traditional aircraft. It really is a revolution is aviation and much needed – which is why huge investments have been made in the development and flight testing of the Hybrid”.

Chief Operating Officer, Mark Dorey has a strong financial management background and a similar depth of airship operating experience having acted as COO for Virgin’s Lightship Group where he negotiated numerous multi-million dollar contracts for the largest fleet of commercial airships ever operated. ‘The economic and environmental advantages of Hybrids make this a customer rich market and the financial modeling and market research undertaken to date are exciting the investment and aviation stakeholders alike” he commented.

In New York, President, North America, David M. Tait OBE was Virgin Atlantic’s first US employee in 1984. Subsequently, as executive director and Executive Vice President he built the airline’s brand and business from scratch to revenues of over $3 billion. In 2001 he received an OBE from Queen Elizabeth for, “Services to British Aviation in the USA”.


Sarah Williams

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