French start-up Flying Whales has been developing a helium airship to transport cargo for over ten years and plans to launch its operations fully in 2026.
In June 2022, Flying Whales closed its third round of funding, which raised a total of €122 million. The engineering phase of the company’s plan came to an end in 2022, with focus now turning to getting its flagship model, named LCA60T, through ground and flight tests.
The LCA60T uses helium cells and seven propulsion points to allow the grant it vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities. This enables it to carry heavy cargo without the need to build roads in order to reach areas that don’t have the existing infrastructure in place necessary to support such transport.
Flying Whales today [5 January] announced the signature of a Letter of Intent with aerospace company ArianeGroup, committing to studying the possible use cases of the LCA60T airship for the transportation of Ariane 6 spacecraft components.
Antonio Fois, a Business Developer at Flying Whales, explains that the start-up’s mission is “to solve some of the biggest transportation problems, minimising environmental footprints”.
He believes that the LCA60T can help areas which may not have sufficient road infrastructure to transport large components to connect to the global economy.