Icelandair Cargo and California-based aircraft manufacturer Aeros have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore opportunities for turning Iceland into a hub for arctic freight operations with its in-development vertical take-off and landing airship, the Aeroscraft.
The airship is designed to carry heavy and oversized cargo loads to areas with limited infrastructure, which will enable it to reach remote arctic areas where natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals may be stored, says Aeros.
“Because of their location and the fact that a great number of North American and Eurasian air routes transit through or over Iceland, IAC is extremely well-positioned to utilise the Aeroscraft and we are excited to see how we can service their network,” says Aeros chief executive Igor Pasternak in a statement.
Aeros plans to introduce the first of 22 Aeroscraft vehicles in 2016 and wet-lease the aircraft to operators. The aircraft will be available in two versions with different maximum payloads and ranges. The ML866 version of the Aeroscraft will have a 66t capacity and range of up to 3,100nm, and the ML868 option holds up to 250t and can travel up to 6,000nm.
“We are pleased to begin a partnership with Aeroscraft and jointly explore the expanding market opportunities in Greenland, Iceland and surrounding Northern territories,” says Gunnar Sigurfinnsson, Icelandair Cargo’s managing director.
Unlike other airships, the Aeroscraft is designed with a proprietary internal ballast system that does not require tethering to stay grounded after unloading cargo. The aircraft received an airworthiness certificate to operate research flights of the ship in September. The firm had a setback in October when the tail end of the Aeroscraft demonstration vehicle was damaged during a partial collapse of the roof housing the aircraft.