An aviation company based near Wolverhampton is part of a deal to take next generation hybrid airships to Alaska, to enable work on hard-to-reach sites.
PUBLISHED: August 31, 2016 10:44 am

Straightline Aviation, based at Wolverhampton Business Airport, is part of deal that will see nexct generation hybrid airships operating in Alaska

The deal has been welcomed by Alaskan political leaders and will see the world's first heavy-lift hybrid airship – Lockheed Martin's LMH-1 – working in America's largest and least populated state from 2019.

Straightline Aviation, based at Wolverhampton Business Airport at Bobbington, is buying a dozen airships from Lockheed which it will then lease to companies around the world.

Alaskan-based PRL Logistics – which runs projects for companies in oil and gas, mining, defence, construction and environmental industries – is the first company to sign up to operate one of the airships.

The LMH-1 will have the ability to land on virtually any surface including snow, ice, gravel and even water. These football field sized airships will be able to 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 (better known as the '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.”

Hybrid airships combine the technology of lighter than air aircraft with airplanes, helicopters and hovercraft. Helium provides 80 percent 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 enables taxiing and holds the craft firmly on the ground.

Ron Hyde, founder and CEO of PRL Logistics, said: “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.”



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