Feeds

Airship 'Sky Tugs' ordered from Lockheed for Canadian oilfields

P-791 military hover suck-blimp gets civil application

Intelligent flash storage arrays

This is the environmentally friendly way of exploiting the wilderness for oil

Thus the Walrus project never went ahead. There are multihundred-million-dollar US military airships being built even now - the LEMV and the ISIS - but they are meant for use as unmanned, long-endurance surveillance platforms. As their payloads are thus relatively small they don't need as much gas and their pressure height limits can be high enough to survive above the battlefield.

Concept of the 'Skytug' hybrid airship. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Technology that really blows. Or sucks

Lockheed evidently hasn't given up on a military role for the P-791 despite having been beaten to the LEMV deal by a British design. Under the new arrangement with Aviation Capital, Lockheed keeps the military rights to its technology, but has sold civil applications to its Canadian partner.

These civil applications are quite likely to start off with the oil and gas industries, or other groups needing to move heavy loads into and out of places without access roads. It's no surprise to find that Aviation Capital is based in Alberta, thought to have vast reserves of black gold lying unexploited in its oil sands. Getting this oil out of the ground involves more machinery than a normal oil-well requires, and moving this kit about would normally require a lot of new roads - which would be expensive and heavily criticised for further despoiling the wilderness.

Various crafty solutions have been proposed to deal with this situation, including riverine hover barges. It was announced in 2008 that Lockheed's great rival Boeing would build an ambitious heli-stat - a combination blimp and helicopter - again in partnership with a Canadian company: but it appears that this project has now folded, with its backers unable to secure Canadian government funding. It would appear that the oilsands field is now clear for Lockheed's P-791 technology - and that this is what the initial application of the SkyTug will be.

Aviation Capital, in common with most airship companies, likes to suggest that its craft will be "environmentally sound", and this is true as far as it goes - they should be fuel-sippers compared to normal cargo aircraft. But not many greens will approve of the uses to which the SkyTug seems likely to be put, at least to begin with.

The company tells the Leading Edge blog that the initial experimental craft of 2012 will be followed by another in 2013 which will achieve FAA certification. Work will begin on the first production craft that year, if all goes according to plan. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.