Quebec invests $55M in Flying Whales’ cargo airship project

Avatar for Brian DunnBy Brian Dunn | July 6, 2022

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 24 seconds.

Quebec’s ambitious plan to build cargo airships is moving ahead with an investment of C$55 million from the province’s Investissement Québec.

As previously reported, the project by French company Flying Whales was first announced in November 2019, when the Quebec government said it was investing $30 million and possibly more in the venture. But the project was blocked by Ottawa due to Chinese involvement, which is no longer the case as the Chinese 24.9 percent stake has been purchased by the company’s French shareholders.

Flying Whales plans to create cargo airships (LCA60T) for transporting oversized loads up to 60 tons. Flying Whales Image

The $55 million is split between the share capital of Flying Whales and its subsidiary, Les Dirigeables Flying Whales Québec. 

“These contributions are aimed at the development and certification of airships intended for the transport of heavy and oversized loads in territories that are difficult to access by land,” according to the Quebec government.

The Flying Whales group has just concluded a third round of financing worth 122 million euros. Besides Quebec, the French State — through the French Tech Souveraineté — and the Principality of Monaco are joining the project. Two current shareholders, ALIAD (Air Liquide Venture Capital) and Groupe ADP, are also putting money into the venture.

“Flying Whales is taking another step in its growth, where Quebec expertise will allow the development of a new generation of aircraft,” said Quebec Economic Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon in a statement.

Quebec wants to see Flying Whales carry out a research and development component this year. Eventually, an aircraft production plant would follow. The first certification and commercial flights are planned for 2025-2026. “Major components will be developed in Quebec, such as the hybrid-electric propulsion system, avionics, and the crew cabin,” said the government, which expects roughly 100 jobs would be created within three years.

“It is here (in Quebec) that we will produce and operate the LCA60T [cargo airship] solution for the American continent,” said Sébastien Bougon, founder and CEO of Flying Whales.

Founded in 2012, Flying Whales plans to create cargo airships (LCA60T) for transporting oversized loads up to 60 tons. The aircraft will first be equipped with hybrid propulsion, then fully electric. The lift will be generated by helium.

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