For nearly 20 years, Lockheed Martin has been working on developing a “Hybrid Airship” that may transform the ability to construct facilities in remote project locations.[i]
On September 13, 2016, the Daily Journal of Commerce reported that the first of these “Hybrid Airships,” which can land in snow, ice, gravel, and water, are set to deliver from a facility operated by PRL Logistics in Kenai, Alaska, beginning in 2019.[ii] PRL will be operating the blimps in partnership with UK-based Straightline Aviation who placed the first order for the airships this year. According to PRL, the hope is that the airships will provide low cost solutions for moving freight in Alaska, where runways and roads are not always available. The helium-lifted behemoth blimps have space for 47,000 pounds of cargo and 18 passengers and cost about $40 million dollars.
[Photo credit: Straightline Aviation]
While Straightline Aviation envisions that the airships will be utilized for passenger transportation, tourism, disaster relief and humanitarian aid, and search and rescue, the most obvious application of interest to readers of this blog is the ability to deliver cargo to remote construction locations.[iii]
In the past, remote construction sites have been reached by barge, airplane, or heavy lift helicopters, but it would seem that these ecologically-friendly Megablimps have the ability to reduce construction transportation costs and enable construction in remote locations where it was not previously possible.