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CQFA Chicoutimi College to train hybrid airship pilots

CHICOUTIMI, Que.–CQFA Chicoutimi College of Aviation has announced a partnership with Quest Rare Minerals (Quebec), Straightline Aviation (United Kingdom) and Hybrid Enterprises (United States) to train and certify hybrid airship pilots to transport rare minerals in Northern Quebec.

The project will eventually see seven hybrid airships operating a shuttle between Quest’s mine at Strange Lake Complex (Northern Quebec) and Schefferville, expecting to carry up to 200 000 metric tons of minerals annually.

“The solid potential of commercial airship operations invites us to consider a dedicated program to be developed together with the Regulator as required standards and recommended practices are identified”, explains CQFA’s Director, Serge Boucher. CQFA, which shortly will be 50 years old, is the ideal institution to undertake such a big challenge.”

The 2019 entry-into-service is challenging, CQFA said. It recently met with Transport Canada to formulate a groundwork for training and checking standards for the large number of pilots needed by the operator.

In addition to pilots, CQFA will also provide training for ground personnel involved with the airship operations.

Project goals are both fascinating and demanding since commercial airship operations draw on traditional expertise with completely new protocols,” says Jean LaRoche, FRAeS, Director of Research and Development.

“CQFA and the Regulator are considering use of a scaled vehicle for training and checking both aircrew and ground personnel. Development of a simulation-based training device as well as virtual reality training aids are also under consideration.”

The Lockheed Martin heavier-than-air LMH-1 can operate on virtually any surface, including snow, ice, gravel and even water, requiring no runways or other expensive infrastructure.

According to the promoter, this new transportation solution will stimulate employment and business opportunities for regional and Aboriginal communities, increasing the socio-economic impact in this mining site. The service agreement represents a value of approximately US $ 850 million, including fuel costs, for a 10-year period starting in 2019, with extensions of up to 20 years, in accordance with the projected life of the mine.

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