By the Blouin News Business staff

Are airships set for a glorious comeback?

by in U.S..

A hybrid airship by Lockheed Martin. (Source: Lockheed Martin/flickr)

A hybrid airship by Lockheed Martin. (Source: Lockheed Martin/flickr)

It has been almost 80 years since the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg airship blew up, but the world is now on the cusp of another golden age for safer and improved airships. On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin sealed its first contract to sell up to 12 of its hybrid LMH-1 airships, valued at $480 million, to Straightline Aviation (SLA). The LMH-1 is part blimp, part helicopter, part cargo plane, and part hovercraft, and it is much more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, and quieter than conventional aircraft. According to Bob Boyd, program manager for hybrid airships at Lockheed Martin, when the LMH-1 enters commercial service in about three years it will be a whole new class of aircraft.

The LMH-1’s innovative design avoids the problems that led to the Hindenburg’s demise. It is heavier than air, meaning that it doesn’t need mooring like a traditional blimp. Thus by using its own movable engines it can land on any unimproved surface, including mud, sand, snow, ice, and water. And for much of its buoyancy it uses helium — an inert gas that won’t ignite in a leak. Even puncturing the hull won’t cause deflation. “In fact even if you shoot holes in it, you probably won’t notice anything for days and patching is a straightforward process,” said Grant Cool, chief…

…the rest of this article lives on Blouin News. Read it here.