British airships to be used in remote north Canada

Posted on 30 Aug 2011 by The Manufacturer

Cranfield-based Hybrid Air Vehicles will supply its ‘modern-day Zeppelins’ to Discovery Air for transportation of people and goods to northern Canada.

After securing a $517m contract to supply the US Army with a fleet of the airships for use in Afghanistan (beginning in 2012), Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has announced that it is to cater for Yellowknife’s Discovery Air (DA) in order for it to supply remote communities and enterprises in the North.

Able to travel at 185 km/h with 50 tonnes of cargo, the airship uses a mix of 60% helium and 40% air which replaces the more dangerous flammable hydrogen. Where the classic cigar-shaped Zeppelins struggled against the wind, hybrids use it in combination with their aerodynamic shape to get more lift. This results in a vehicle that uses roughly 80% less fuel than a passenger jet on long-haul flights.

The airships from HAV cost $40m each, are able to operate At 20,000 feet above sea level, have a 2,000 mile radius of action and are completely runway independent. According to DA, this makes them ‘perfect’ for the kinds of operations it undertakes.

George Archer