N.W.T. cabinet committee hears airship pitch from Lockheed Martin – by Jimmy Thomson (CBC News North – September 02, 2016)


New helium-filled aircraft can land in rough remote terrain

Airships were on the agenda at a Northwest Territories cabinet committee meeting in Hay River on Thursday. The helium-filled aircraft are being floated as a solution to logistical problems in the North, where a huge landmass makes for expensive limitations to development.

It’s not the first time the idea of using airships in the North has been explored. In 2013, a House of Commons committee suggested examining airships as a way to reach remote communities. But this time, there is an actual prototype built, with production expected to begin in 2018.

With new designs focused on remote operations, proponents are saying the North could be a perfect testing ground for their lofty ambitions. Straightline Aviation has a contract for the first 12 of Hybrid Air’s — a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin — $40 million airships. Straightline’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Dorey, says Canada would be an ideal place to try them out.

“When you’re putting a new aircraft into service, you want to work with as many known quantities as you possibly can,” he says. “So working with Transport Canada, working with the FAA, is something that we’re used to.”

Hybrid Air spokesperson Grant Cool suggested that the airships should be thought of more as a mobile part of the highway system, like B.C. Ferries, than like moving vehicles.

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