French-Canadian airship developer Flying Whales intends to power its conceptual cargo-hauling hybrid-electric dirigible using Honeywell’s 1MW generator.
The companies say on 5 April that they intend to mate the generator to a gearbox and a jet-fuel-burning turbine to create a hybrid-propulsion package for Flying Whales’ LCA60T airship.
“The Honeywell generator will supply electrical power to the electric engines, thereby creating a more efficient and sustainable form of travel – similar to the way hybrid-electric automobiles function,” say Flying Whales and Honeywell.
Flying Whales has operations in France and Quebec, Canada, and says the deal with Honeywell comes via its Canadian subsidiary, Flying Whales Quebec. That subsidiary is part owned by Investissement Quebec, an investment arm of Quebec’s government.
The in-development LCA60T will be a 200m (656ft)-long “heavy-duty rigid airship” designed to carry up to 60t of cargo. Ten “non-pressurised helium cells” – containing a total 180,000cb m (6.3 million cb ft) of helium – will provide lift, while thrust will come from a 4MW hybrid-electric propulsion system, Flying Whales says. The aircraft will have a 54kt (100km/h) maximum speed and be capable of flying up to 10,000ft.
“Honeywell’s 1MW generator will be integrated within the turbo-generator of the hybrid-electric propulsion system,” says Flying Whales chief executive Vincent Guibout. “Equipping the LCA60T with the best technical solution for high-power onboard requirements, we are paving the way for a revolution in air transport.”
The company started developing the airship specifically for the purpose of transporting “renewable wood resources” from remote locations. But Flying Whales says LCA60T’s “unique stationary hovering design” will make it suitable for other cargo missions, including those involving construction and energy-industry projects. Flying Whales plans to operate its airships via a subsidiary.
“This solution overcomes all ground constraints to transport large and heavy loads, at a low cost,” it says.
Flying Whales aims to achieve first flight of its LCA60T in 2025, followed by certification and service entry in 2026. It estimates demand exists to support production of 150 airships over 10 years.
Honeywell in 2021 disclosed it was developing its 1MW turbo-generator, saying at the time that the machine would be suitable for air taxis, cargo drones and hybrid-electric commercial aircraft.
Weighing 127kg (280lb), the 1MW generator will be about two-and-a-half times more powerful than a turbo-generator Honeywell unveiled in 2019.
“The proven high-power density and efficiency of Honeywell’s 1MW generator system allows it to integrate smoothly with propulsion and operational systems for piloted or autonomous aircraft,” Honeywell says. “It can also be used as a 1MW motor without modifications for electric propulsion engines.”