Despite several concerns and criticisms, a Manitoba professor remains optimistic airships will someday fill northern skies supplying communities with goods and services.
Professor Barry Prentice downplayed some of the concerns raised by researchers at a Winnipeg conference.
One scientist says he doesn’t know how Transport Canada would treat the ships, noting there are no definitive rules in place.
He also questions how the massive blimps would manage if they had six inches of snow on top of them.
Prentice says it’s really not that complicated.
“You know there aren’t a lot of technical questions…they flew across the oceans 75 years ago, we’ve had tremendous advantages in aerospace and airplanes and all that technology can be applied to airships.”
He adds many of the airships are made out of aluminum, the same as planes.
As for the snow, Prentice says airships could have heated panels placed in them so this problem could be eliminated.
At the same time, he says most of the snow northern regions receive is dry and would blow off.
Prentice remains convinced the biggest hurdle facing airship implementation is political will.
“When have you seen a politician step to the mic and say, ‘we really need airships in this country?’ and until that happens the industry is going to look and say ‘is the government going to help us or block us?”
When it comes to housing the airships, he says the government is going to have to pay for some infrastructure similar to what it does for rail and airplanes.
He says there are few airship hangars in the world with most consisting of old military hangars that are crumbling apart.
He says Canada will need some hangars so the ships can be repaired and kept in good working order.