Hybrid Airships to Transfer Helium from Tanzania

Helium One, a company that holds a prospecting license for several recently discovered helium deposits in Tanzania, intends to use Lockheed Martin’s LMH-1 hybrid airships to transport the gas out of the country. The company’s license includes three project areas in Tanzania, encompassing more than 4,500 km² of land with helium concentrations up to 10.5 percent.

“We are in the process of developing a new helium province in Tanzania that has the potential to alleviate fears of a global helium shortage for decades to come,” says Thomas Abraham-James, CEO of Helium One. ” The LMH-1 airship may be a highly cost effective transportation method for us, and could reduce the bottlenecks associated with road transportation.”

Distributed exclusively by Hybrid Enterprises, an LMH-1 can land on virtually any surface including gravel, snow, ice and even water. The helium-filled vessels are heavier-than-air and can carry 21 metric tons of cargo and up to 19 passengers. The airships combine the technology of lighter-than-air aircraft with airplanes, helicopters and hovercraft. Helium provides 80 percent of the lift, with the remainder coming from the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft and its four thrust vectoring engines. The airships also feature a hovercraft-like air cushion landing system that facilitates taxiing and holds the craft firmly on the ground.

“With the demand for helium increasing, this discovery of a nearly 100 billion cubic foot helium deposit in Tanzania will help ensure future supply,” says Rob Binns, CEO of Hybrid Enterprises. “And what better way to transport this product than with our helium-filled hybrid airship.”