10 July 2020

Cargo Airships Deferred But Still Making Progress

Lockheed announced in 2015 that it would be introducing cargo airships in 2018. It didn't happen. It made its first sale, an order of twelve of them, on March 31, 2016. As a press release explained:
Straightline Aviation (SLA) has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 12 Lockheed Martin hybrid airships with a potential value of approximately USD480 million. SLA is working with Lockheed Martin's hybrid airship reseller Hybrid Enterprises to finalise the purchase agreement. . . . "The clear-cut economic and environmental advantages of these Hybrids are attracting vast amounts of attention from a wide range of potential end users." Lockheed Martin claims that the hybrid airship can affordably transport cargo and passengers to and from the most remote locations. The airship requires little or no fixed ground infrastructure and burns significantly less fuel compared to conventional aircraft, added the company.
The deal progressed further on July 20, 2017 with the sale from the reseller to a different end user lined up. 

But, it isn't obvious that the deal has moved forward since then and actually resulted in deliveries. Other companies look like they are closer to being the first to market. According to the Financial Times newspaper on October 11, 2019, a model called the Airlander 10 of the company Hybrid Air Vehicles is really the only viable program right now:
Four other companies — including Lockheed Martin — have developed serious airship proposals. Hybrid Air Vehicles remains the only one that has flown, and the one that appears most refined.

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