Unglamorous though they are, aerostats are carving a substantial niche in the airborne surveillance business. They come in all sizes, from 30 feet long and a volume of 2,500 cu ft, to a massive 242 feet and 590,000 cu ft.
Ice road truckers could be out of business soon. Boeing and SkyHook are developing a hybrid heavy-lift helicopter/blimp capable of hoisting a 40-ton sling load and moving it 200 miles without refueling. The JHL-40 will be capable of transporting equipment and materials to remote drilling and mining locations in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. The helium “envelope” will support the vehicle while the four main rotors will lift the payload.
It’s always big news when a new aircraft model is introduced at NBAA. Worldwide Aeros Corp., making its first NBAA appearance this week, hopes that introducing an entirely new category of air vehicle will be really big news.