Boeing air lifter
16 July 2008
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing and SkyHook International in the US have agreed to develop a “commercial heavy-lift rotorcraft.”
The JHL-40 (Jess Heavy Lifter) will be designed to address the limitations and expense of transporting equipment and materials in remote regions, according to Boeing.
Boeing has received the first increment of a contract from SkyHook to develop the new aircraft. “SkyHook secured the patent for this neutrally buoyant aircraft and approached Boeing with the opportunity to develop and build the system,” said Pat Donnelly, director of Advanced Rotorcraft Systems at Boeing. “We conducted a feasibility study and decided this opportunity is a perfect fit for Advanced Systems’ technical capabilities.”
The neutrally buoyant feature is to allow SkyHook higher payloads than any existing rotorcraft. The helium-filled envelope supports the empty weight of the aircraft so lift generated by the four rotors is just used to lift payload. Capacity will be for a 40 US ton (36 tonne) slung load that can be transported 200 miles without refuelling. These features make the JHL-40 useful in harsh environments, for example, the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, US and roads are not needed.
“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,” said Pete Jess, SkyHook president and chief operating officer.
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, a unit of The Boeing Company, is designing and will fabricate two production prototypes of the JHL-40 at its Rotorcraft Systems facility in the US. Skyhook will own, maintain, operate and service all JHL-40 aircraft worldwide.