AMERICAN BLIMP CORPORATION
In 1995, ABC announced the design of a series of airships larger than the A-60, designated A-1-50 (marketing designation A-150). These are a refinement of the earlier A-120 conceptual design with a new technology envelope. The civil version incorporates the ABC internal illumination system for advertising and is designated a Lightship; the non-illuminating surveillance version is designated SPECTOR. Lightship envelopes remain translucent for internal illumination, whereas SPECTOR envelopes are opaque. Each is offered in three sizes to optimise costs with mission requirements. Other structural elements are identical.
The same envelope technology was introduced as an option for production on existing A-60+ Lightships from 1996 (first contract, for seven envelopes to be supplied by ILC Dover, announced 18 March 1996).
On 23 July 2002, ABC announced that it had acquired the Virgin Lightships interests in the former's affiliate. The Lightship Group (TLG), following Virgin's decision to exit the commercial airship market. TLG is now a wholly owned ABC subsidiary, and operates 16 ABC airships around the world.
Company is currently developing airship designs for medium-altitude (2,000 to 3,000 m; 6,560 to 9,840 ft) operation with military and commercial payloads for surveillance and communications relay. It has also, on behalf of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, been studying the use of a helium airship as a possible vehicle for unmanned exploration of Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. Named Aerover, the projected airship would be approximately 10 m (33 ft) long, 2.44 m (8 ft) in diameter and weigh about 100 kg (220 lb).
In 1999, ABC increased its manufacturing area by 30 per cent with a 410 m2 (4,400 sq ft) extension at Hillsboro, which now covers almost 2,325 m2 (25,000 sq ft). At the same time, a 280 m2 (3,000 sq ft) fabrication shop was being readied at the Tillamook flight test centre. In August 2003, ABC's combined fleet of 17 A-60+/A-1-50 airships achieved a cumulative total of 150,000 flight hours.
On 21 November 2000, ABC purchased the type certificate (originally issued on 17 November 1992) for the Colt GA42 non-rigid helium airship. It is believed that three airships of this type were included in the transfer.
Address: 1900 North-East 25th Avenue, Suite 5, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124, USA
Tel: (+1 503) 693 16 11
Fax: (+1 503) 681 09 06
AIRBORNE SURVEILLANCE GROUP:
Address: 302 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, Maryland 21146-1910
Tel: (+1 410) 544 65 08
Fax: (+1 410) 544 65 09
Address: The Lightship Group, 5728 Major Boulevard, Suite 314, Orlando, Florida 32819
Tel: (+1 407) 363 77 77
Fax: (+1 407) 363 09 62