The SkyHook JHL-40 is a hybrid airship/helicopter currently in development. On July 9, 2008, Boeing announced that it had teamed up with SkyHook International, a Canadian company, to develop this aircraft.
According to company spokepeople, the aircraft will combine the best features of a blimp and a helicopter, and will be capable of carrying a 40 ton load up to 200 miles (320 km) without refueling. At 302 feet (92 m) long, it will classify as the largest helicopter in the world, and will be capable of flying up to 800 miles (1,300 km) without a load. The craft will use helium to provide enough lift to carry its own weight, and will use four helicopter rotors to lift the load and to propel the aircraft. By using both helium and helicopter rotors, the aircraft can avoid having to jettison helium after unloading.
In comparison, the CH-47 Chinook helicopter can carry a load the same distance, but can only lift a maximum of 10 tons.
SkyHook claims that the aircraft will provide environmental benefits over traditional methods of delivering heavy loads, as it will require less fuel than a helicopter and will not require building big roads for construction equipment.
The JHL-40, or Jess Heavy Lifter, is named after Pete Jess, the President and Chief operating officer of SkyHook International, the company that owns the patent for the aircraft.
The planned aircraft has yet to be certified by Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Currently the aircraft’s overall performance and layout have been established. The next major program milestone will be Detailed Design in 2011, which centers on the design, analysis and specification of all hardware, software and related aircraft and ground support systems interfaces. Boeing is designing and will fabricate a production SkyHook HLV prototype at its Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. The new aircraft will enter commercial service after it is certified by Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The first SkyHook HLV aircraft was scheduled to fly in 2014, on September 13, 2010 however, Financial Times Deutschland revealed that development was halted until an infusion of 100 million dollar in public funding would be available.