Paris-based Hybrid Air Freighters (HAF) is teaming with Aurora, Oregon-based Columbia Helicopters to manage and operate a fleet of up to 12 Lockheed Martin LMH-1 heavy lift airships. Under the agreement, HAF will manage the aircraft while Columbia will operate them.
The LMH-1 is designed to carry oversized payloads up to 21 tons in a 10-by-10-by-60-foot cargo bay, cruise at speeds up to 60 knots, and have an unrefueled range of 1,404 nm. Conversely, it can carry up to 20 passengers.
HAF’s LMH-1 features fly-by-wire flight controls, two-axis vectored thrust propulsion, and a tri-hull multiple-lobe, helium-filled design of woven materials durable enough to land on sand, snow, dirt, and water. The airship can take off and land like a hovercraft and does not require any special mooring or towering. It is 280 feet long, 148 feet wide, and 78 feet high.
HAF signed a letter intent to acquire the 12 LMH-1s last year in a deal valued at $480 million and hopes to have them operational by 2020 or 2021. HAF and Columbia believe the aircraft will have appeal to customers in the oil and gas and heavy construction sectors. HAF’s is the second announced deal for the LMH-1. In March 2016, UK-based Straightline Aviation also signed a letter of intent for 12 of the airships.