JHL-40 – Blimp On Steroids

Opening up canal-ways is just one way to relieve congestion on roads and offer a greener alternative to the way we transport heavy goods.

SkyHook International and Boeing intend to build the Jess Heavy Lifter (JHL-40).

This airship is able to lift up to 40 tones in one load and travel up to 320 kilometers without refueling.

The craft will have a top speed of 70 knots and will be used to move materials in remote areas including the Northern Territories of Canada.

It will cut the need of building roads (removing trees) in remote and extreme areas and should be plenty of use to the gas and oil companies.

Pete Jess, 55, SkyHook’s president, has been working on this project for 25 years.

“The perception is ‘Oh, it’s going to blow up. It’s a Hindenburg or something like that.’ And it’s going to be our job to educate people as to what this thing is. You can’t get around the fact it’s a large envelope full of helium, and it does look a little bit like a balloon,” said the aviation engineer and former helicopter pilot.

“It’s a blimp on steroids because it’s got more than 20,000 horsepower on it and it’s a serious working machine.” Unlike blimps, the airship is neutrally buoyant. “With the empty weight of the aircraft being supported by the helium-filled envelope, the lift provided by four Boeing Model 234 rotors attached to the airframe can be dedicated solely to lifting the payload.”

SkyHook and Boeing will build two prototypes of the JHL-40 and hope to be flying by 2012.