Heavy Lift Air Vehicles, 'Futuristic Blimps,' To Deliver Supplies To Canada's Arctic, Remote Locations

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Icy roads might no longer come between supply and demand.

Canada's Discovery Air Innovations Inc. and British startup Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) have teamed up in an attempt to commercialize the delivery of products to remote areas of Canada's Northwest Territories via futuristic "blimps".

Blimp-like Heavy Lift Air Vehicles will be able to transport cargo across largely frozen areas often inaccessible to trucks, planes and other means of transportation. Discovery Air entered the preliminary agreement as the startup's first customer.

In a press release, Discovery Air states it hopes to have the first airships up and running in 2014 if all preceding business deals go according to plan.

Hybrid Air Vehicles emphasizes the airships use helium and do not need special runways for landing, loading and liftoff.

The vehicles are reportedly fully operational on various surfaces, including gravel, snow, ice and water, can hold 50 tonnes of cargo -- no fuel required -- and remain in the air for weeks at a time.

Non-flammable helium ensures the "blimps" won't go up in flames like the Hindenburg, The Winnipeg Free Press points out. Older airships used hydrogen.

"HAV has re-examined the basic principles behind lighter-than-air science and applied modern technology and materials to this 100 year old concept," Paul Bouchard, Discovery Air Innovations president said in the release.

Discovery's largest aircraft currently has a cargo limit of 7,000 pounds and must refuel after several hours, The National Post reports.

Rolf Dawson, Discovery Air's vice president of corporate finance and administration, told the National Post he thinks the biggest demand for the airships will come from remote mining areas and locations that use heavy equipment.

Each of the futuristic vehicles costs about $40 million, according to CBC News. Both companies are collaborating on a functional design before they submit the product for certification.

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