The Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon announced that the province will invest millions in a French airship firm.
The idea of airships to have blimps or dirigibles carry heavy loads into remote or difficult to access areas, has been discussed for years in Canada.
The $30 million reported investment in the French firm, Flying Whales, may not end there. Fitzgibbon says more public money may be invested if the company builds a plant in Quebec and gives exclusive North American distribution rights.
The idea of airships got a boost in 2012 when a report for the government’s transportation committee suggested airships could be a viable method to access remote northern communities and resource industry worksites.
“Hybrid air vehicles may one day provide a superior solution, as they can travel over snowfall, frozen water or impenetrable terrain, and require no roads or rail installations to operate.” Innovative Transportation Technologies report 2012,
Several projects and deals in Canada have been announced such as in 2013, 2016, and 2017, but so far it seems none have come to fruition
- RCI: Sep 17/13: Airship transport to remote areas
- RCI: Mar 31/16: Airship comeback; transport to remote areas in the Arctic
- RCI: Mar 7/17: Innovative ‘new age’ Canadian transport to world’s remote areas
The public funds announced will go mostly go to the French parent with about $8 million going to a new Quebec subsidiary which will carry out research and development.
The French company, which apparently has no customers so far, expects a prototype flight in 2021, and will build its first plant in France in 2022, with a Quebec plant to come in 2023 or 2024.
- House of Commons: Transportation Committee: Innovation report 2012
- Canadian Press (via CTV A. Luft): Nov 14/19: Flying Whales: Quebec could invest more than $30M
- Canadian Press (via CTV); Nov 13/18: Quebec is investing in airships though its unclear if there are any customers for them
- PostMedia ( Mtl Gazette); F. Tomesco: Jun 18/19: Flying whales poised to lift off in Montreal thanks to Quebec investment