Most people think of airships as being relics of the past that might just crop up nowadays in the odd old black and white war movie. They were notorious for spontaneously combusting in spectacular fashion and known for being pretty volatile.
Things have now changed for these brutes of the sky and they appear to be making a bit of a comeback as a solution for serving remote communities.
Gone are the days of filling these behemoths up with the ridiculously combustible hydrogen, these modern versions make use of the far more sensible and less reactive helium gas.
Helium is usually found in kids’ balloons at parties and we are all familiar with them floating skyward, that is, unless we have sucked the gas out of them for a few seconds of comedy voices…
No, this new generation of blimp is a serious solution to a serious problem and that is how to get essential supplies to tricky-to-access remote areas of Canada that is sustainable and environmentally acceptable.
It is thought that the airships will be operated by Discovery Air and will come into use by 2014. They are capable of very heavy lifting of up to 50 tons each trip and have the added benefit of being able to take off from almost anywhere.
The airships are propelled by 4 fans and they are constructed from laminated material. At a cost of $40 million each, they really will need to be put to work in order to earn their keep.