Anchorage, Alaska – Hybrid Enterprises, the exclusive worldwide reseller of Lockheed Martin's Hybrid Airships, is forming a strategic partnership between PRL Logistics Inc., a remote site logistics company, and UK-based Hybrid Airship owner and operator, Straightline Aviation. This partnership will introduce the heavy-lift Hybrid Airship – the LMH-1.
Developed and built by Lockheed Martin, the LMH-1 is designed to land on virtually any surface including snow, ice, gravel, and even water. These football field sized airships offer 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’s Advanced Development Programs (the fabled 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% 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 hovercraft-like air cushion landing system that facilitates taxiing and holds the craft firmly on the ground.
PRL Logistics is founded, owned, and operated in Alaska, offering a variety of project services and comprehensive logistics solutions including: project management, project planning, modeling, safety, procurement, and field execution. PRL serves a broad range of projects and clients in the oil and gas, mining, defense, industrial, construction, and environmental industries.
"PRL's understanding of the complexities of working in Alaska's extremely remote site and 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," said Ron Hyde, PRL CEO.
Michael Kendrick, Chief Executive 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."
U.S. Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan, also a former Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said, "I am pleased to hear this announcement. Alaska is a storehouse of immense natural resource wealth. This combination of technology and innovation will enable access to resources and provide needed benefits to our infrastructure. It is an example of a company operating to provide a transportation solution to meet Alaska's unique challenges."
For Alaska, airship operations will be based at the PRL Logistics Operations Center 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 center for the hybrid airship.
The first aircraft are to be delivered in 2019 and will carry up to 22 tons of freight, along with 18 passengers plus crew.
The airships are part of Straightline Aviation’s letter of intent to purchase up to 12 Lockheed Martin Hybrid Airships announced March 30, 2016, according to Claire McDuff, senior analyst for Hybrid Enterprises. She adds that the anticipated cost of the airships PRL Logistics will receive is $40 million.
Source: Hybrid Enterprises
Note: A rival firm, Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd., is also developing a heavy-lift cargo airship. Its prototype Airlander 10 airship sustained damage in a nose-down hard landing at Cardington, U.K., at the end of its second test flight on Aug. 25, 2016. In photos of the event, the flight deck’s forward glazing and framing appeared to separate from the cabin, but both pilots and the ground crew were reported safe and the aircraft was later secured at its normal mooring location. The cause of the hard landing is being investigated. – Editor