__NOTOC__The P-791 is an experimental aerostatic/aerodynamic hybrid airship developed by Lockheed-Martin corporation.The first flight of the P-791 was made on 31 January 2006 at the company's flight test facility on the Palmdale Air Force Plant 42. According to press reports, the designation "P-791" has no particular meaning.

Hybrid airship design

The P-791 is an example of a hybrid airship. In such designs, part of the weight of the craft and its payload are supported by aerostatic (buoyant) lift and the remainder is supported by aerodynamic lift.

The combination of aerodynamic and aerostatic lift is an attempt to benefit from both the high speed of aerodynamic craft and the lifting capacity of aerostatic craft. Critics of the hybrid approach have labeled it as being the "worst of both worlds" in that such craft require a runway for take-off and landing, are difficult to control and protect on the ground, and have relatively poor aerodynamic performance.Fact|date=November 2007

Proponents of hybrid designs claim that these shortcomings can be overcome through advanced technologies. In particular, it has been proposed that buoyancy control mechanisms can minimize or eliminate the need for a runway. However, to date, no effective buoyancy control mechanism has been demonstrated on a hybrid airship.

No hybrid airship design has been developed past the initial experimental stages. Although many such designs have been proposed, very few have flown. One hybrid airship design that did take flight was the Aereon 26. The development of this aircraft was documented in the book "The Deltoid Pumpkinseed" by John McPhee.


Although Lockheed-Martin is developing a design for the DARPA project WALRUS, the company claims that the P-791 is unrelated to WALRUS. Nonetheless, the design represents an approach that may well be applicable to WALRUS. Some believe that Lockheed-Martin has used the secret P-791 program as a way to get a "head-start" on [http://www.aerosml.com/main.htm Worldwide Aeros Corporation] , the other Phase I WALRUS competitor.

kyCat Technology Status

The company has released no details about the design of the aircraft. However, from a distance, the P-791 appears to be essentially identical in design to the SkyCat design unsuccessfully promoted by the now defunct British company Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). SkyCat technologies are once again being developed and promoted in the US by the Hybrid Aircraft Corporation (HAC) located in New Mexico. Press reports have also confirmed that the P-791 incorporates some of the most distinctive design features of the SkyCat, specifically the use of hover/suction skirts as "landing gear."

Industry observers have noted that engineering individuals closely associated with HAC later worked on the WALRUS project and P-791 at Lockheed-Martin.

ee also

* Helistat

External links

* [http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/020606p2.xml P-791 AVIATION WEEK]
* [http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=1153517 Airliners.net article]
* [http://www.snotr.com/video/619 Video of test flight]

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