In 1987 the founder and president of ABC, Mr. James Thiele commenced operations of his new company. He had correctly perceived the increasing demand for airships was being met by resistance due to their relatively high initial price. As an aeronautical engineer employed in the lighter than air industry for a number of years, he developed a vision of a simple airship, with low initial price and sized to permit a small ground crew to operate it. This concept took the form of the Lightship A-50.
This design grew to the A-60 and now the A-60+, the most popular airship in the world. There are more A-60+ airships flying in commercial service than those of all other manufacturers combined. ABC Lightships operate in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and in many European countries, as well as in North America. These popular airships feature a translucent envelope with two bright internal lights, which illuminate the envelope and its message at night, increasing the airships' revenue time.
In 1995 ABC announced the introduction of the SPECTORTM series of airships in answer to the increasing demand for airborne surveillance by military, police and civil aid agencies. These new airships feature a gondola capable of nine passengers plus the pilot, and endurance exceeding 24 hours. As Lightships they are being produced with internal lights and translucent envelopes for the advertising and sales promotion markets. The FAA Type Certificate for the SPECTORTM 42/Lightship A-150 was awarded in October 1997 following an eight-month flight test program.
ABC airships are FAA approved for single pilot day/night IFR flight, and have been awarded Type Certificates by many countries in addition to the USA.
ABC is the only organization in the world delivering from the scheduled manufacture of airships. It is a privately held corporation with a strong financial base. ABC has about 45 employees at its Hillsboro, OR headquarters where the airships are designed and constructed in a 2300 m2 (25,000 ft2) facility housing administrative offices and shop space. An additional 280 m2 (3000 ft2) for production is leased in a large airship hangar in Tillamook, OR. The final assembly and flight test is accomplished at an appropriate site near the customer's location. A marketing office for airship applications in government missions and civil aid is located in Severna Park, MD, near Washington, DC.
The Lightship Group (TLG), a wholly owned subsidiary of ABC, operates and sell Lightships for advertising and tourism around the world. TLG has more than 200 employees, and is operating 17 airships. Those in the USA are operated as an Air Carrier under FAR Part 135. TLG is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, with offices in Telford, UK, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For government customers desiring long-term start-up support, or full operation of their airships, ABC frequently subcontracts such tasks to TLG.
|CURRENT PRODUCTION AIRSHIPS|
|Government/Military Designations||SPECTORTM 19||SPECTORTM 42||SPECTORTM 50|
|Commercial configuration with internal envelope lighting||A-60+||A-150||A-170|
|Envelope Volume (m3)||1900||4200||4830|
|Standard Fuel (liters/type)||261/100LL||560/100LL||560/100LL|
|Max Level Speed (KTAS)||46||52||51|
|Endurance at 45 kph, Standard Fuel (hours)||15||15||15|
|Payload (kg) with Pilot and Fuel for 10 Hours, 35°C, Cruise at 1000 m||230||628||1125|
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