Thursday 20 September 2018
Approximately 18 months into the first flight of Lockheed Martin’s LMH-1, the participants in the programme are busy with preparations for the commercial launch of the airship.
Paris-based Hybrid Air Freighters (HAF), which is continuing its relationship with the manufacturer, after signing a letter of intent for the acquisition of up to twelve hybrid airships on June 20, 2017, has partnered with Columbia Helicopters to offer services to the oil and gas, mining and construction industries.
Columbia Helicopters will be responsible for operating the aircraft; HAF will be responsible for managing them.
The new venture will facilitate and manage access of HAF’s LMH-1 airships to remote areas. Columbia Helicopters is a major operator of heavy lift helicopter operations and also provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul services, specialising in remote areas.
HAF says that the Lockheed Martin-developed LMH-1 offers several advantages over conventional aircraft and existing airship designs. It can take off and land, hovercraft style, on almost all unimproved flat surfaces, including water, snow, ice, sand, grass, without the need for mooring masts and other ground infrastructure.
Whilst it signed a letter of intent for the acquisition of up to 12 hybrid airships in June 2017, it remains cautious about when the first airships will go into service, saying that they could go into service “in the Arctic and the tropics” by late 2020 or early 2021, after obtaining US (FAA) and European (EASA) certifications.