Samantha Masunaga writes Lockheed expects the 21-metric-ton LMH-1 airship to have its initial flight by late 2017 and start commercial operations by the end of 2018.
Craig Johnston, business director for Lockheed’s Skunk Works, told the LA Times that the company expects to hire approximately 150 workers at its California facility for the hybrid aircraft program, which Lockheed intends to serve as a cargo vehicle.
Lockheed will build the helium-based airship to carry 19 passengers and up to 47,000 pounds of cargo, as well as to be equipped with an air-cushion landing platform, four engines and a square-shaped cargo bay.
Grant Cool, chief operating officer of Hybrid Enterprises, told the LA Times the aircraft could be marketed for use in humanitarian relief missions as well as in mining and oil and gas sectors.
Lockheed selected Hybrid Enterprises in June 2015 to act as exclusive reseller of the airship.