A new category of aircraft, called a Neutrally Buoyant Aircraft (neutral buoyancy technology), uses a combination of aerostatic lift and rotorcraft technology to move heavy loads. This technology will revolutionize the VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) world.
The helium-filled envelope is sized to support the weight of the vehicle and fuel without payload. With the empty weight of the aircraft supported by the envelope, the lift generated by four rotors is dedicated solely to lifting the payload, leaving the aircraft neutrally buoyant.
Boeing is designing and will fabricate two production prototypes of the JHL-40 at its Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Park, Pa. Skyhook will own, maintain, operate and service all JHL-40 aircraft for customers worldwide. The new aircraft will enter commercial service as soon as it is certified by Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Lift Capacity: 40 Tons
Range: 200 miles
Speed: 70 knots
Size: 300’ by 217’ by 118’
This new lift capacity is approximately twice that of the Russian MI-26 helicopter, and allows industries operating in remote regions without conventional transportation infrastructure flexibility and reduced costs. Similar to today’s helicopters, the vehicle will have very precise station keeping capabilities and be able to accurately place and release externally attached loads.
The new vehicle will have an 800 nautical mile ferry range without payload, and a 200 nautical mile range with a 40 ton payload without refueling. According to Pete Jess, SkyHook president and chief operating officer "Companies have suggested this new technology will enable them to modify their current operational strategy and begin working much sooner on projects that were thought to be 15 to 20 years away. This Boeing-SkyHook technology represents an environmentally acceptable solution for these companies' heavy-lift short-haul challenges, and it's the only way many projects will be able to progress economically."
The JHL-40 is environmentally acceptable because it mitigates the impact of building new roadways in remote areas, and Skyhook is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of the industrial projects it supports.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!