Lockheed Martin gets FAA Approval for Hybrid Airship
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) greenlighted a certification plan put forward by Lockheed Martin for its new class of hybrid airships. This approval takes Lockheed Martin closer to delivering the airships to commercial customers.
Lockheed Martin program manager Robert Boyd said,
"The approval of the certification plan represents an important risk reduction milestone for our customers. Completing this step took dedication from both the Lockheed Martin system experts and the FAA, who worked meticulously through thousands of detailed items to achieve consistent and accurate verification statements covering the entire aircraft."
Touted as a cost-efficient platform to deliver heavy payloads such as cargo and personnel to remote locations with minimal infrastructure around the globe, the hybrid airship consumes less than 1/10 the fuel of a conventional helicopter per ton. The hybrid airship is marketed as a sustainable, green aircraft for the future. No major airport, rail, or road is needed for the hybrid airship to land on.
For example, the hybrid airship could aid in oil and mining operations in the Arctic.
Comprised of mostly helium, the Lockheed Martin hybrid airship cruises continuously without the fear of stalling that is present with conventional aircraft and helicopters. The platform can ferry a payload of up to 21,000 kilograms (47,000 pounds) or 19 passengers. It exhibits a range of 1400 nautical miles, cruise speed of 60 knots, and possesses a 5,000-pound fuel capacity.
With work on the project starting over two decades ago, Lockheed Martin flew a hybrid airship prototype dubbed the P-791 in January 2006. The maiden flight took place at Lockheed Martin’s flight test facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. Designed for the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program, the Lockheed Martin P-791 lost to Northrop Grumman’s HAV-3 hybrid airship concept. However, the US Army ended up cancelling the program. Now, both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are developing their prototypes for civilian use.
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