Air Cushion Landing System (ACLS)


Air Cushion Landing System (ACLS)

The hybrid airship uses hovercraft technology for the ACLS to allow the airship to operate into and out of flat unprepared surface whether it is dirt, grass, sand, snow, ice or even water.

A hovercraft, also known as an air-cushion vehicle or ACV, is an amphibious craft capable of travelling over land, water, mud, ice, and other surfaces using blowers to produce a large volume of air below the hull that is slightly above atmospheric pressure. The pressure difference between the higher-pressure air below the hull and lower pressure ambient air above it produces lift, which causes the hull to float above the running surface. They use this air to balance their weight, allowing the craft to operate efficiently.

Hovercraft technology provides a significant advantage for the hybrid airship as it enables the airship to access remote locations around the world that other cargo hauling aircraft simply cannot due to the lack of appropriate and environmentally scaring infrastructure. 

The ACLS consists of three hover pads located on the underside of the airship. These hover pads create a cushion of air that allows the airship to float over the ground almost friction free. The system gives the hybrid airship a unique capability to hover over water, which can make it an asset to search and rescue or coast guard operations.

The ACLS also allow the airship to remain stationery on land by the hover pads ‘grip’ to the ground with light suction pressure to keep the airship from moving in variable winds.

‘Fingers’ hang below the pads to create a seal with the ground. These fingers allow the airship to taxi over obstacles, such as tree stumps or rocks, so extensive site preparation is not needed for a high volume cargo operation. These ‘fingers’ also make the hovercraft a sustainable solution because there is no long-term impact to the ground site.

In the film below Lockheed Martin’s team explain where the ACLS technology comes from, the advantages it brings to the hybrid airship and how it has been modified to improve the performance of the hybrid airship.