After 20 years of development work, the world’s first commercial cargo airship is set to launch in 2018. It will be manufactured by Lockheed Martin who received an order for 12 of them.
Hybrid Airship, capable of carrying more than 20 tonnes of cargo along with nineteen passengers and two pilots, is believed to bring a revolution in remote cargo delivery. It enables affordable and safe delivery of heavy cargo and personnel to virtually anywhere- water or land, in normal flying conditions with little to no infrastructure.The primary initial market identified would be oil, gas or mining companies and their engineer contractors, but it has many other uses, such as disaster relief work, or a connection between agricultural areas and existing infrastructure for the transport of perishables.
It is thought that the costs per mile of the hybrid airship are around one third of an aircraft such as Boeing 737 and one tenth of the heavy-lift helicopters. The gains would not only be economical but also environmental as these airships burn less fuel compared to conventional aircraft.
The drop in energy and commodity prices is believed to be behind the need for these cost-effective logistics services but the hybrid airship will most certainly secure its place in the transport system regardless of future commodity prices.