French startup Flying Whales revealed, during the recent COP28 Summit, its plans to build an airship factory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This new production facility could be ready as early as 2027 and would create 300 direct jobs plus another 1,000 indirectly.
Emirati media reported that the airship developer would like to build a final assembly line in Abu Dhabi, from where it aims to supply the Middle East, India and Africa.
Over the last decade, Flying Whales has been developing a new generation airship, which it calls LCA60T, to provide crewless air cargo services with a low carbon footprint and in places with limited ground infrastructure.
In June 2023, during the 2023 Paris Air Show, a Flying Whales spokesperson told AeroTime that, after securing manufacturing sites in western France and Québec, the firm was looking for additional manufacturing sites in other regions of the world. In this regard, after the UAE announcement, Australia is likely to be confirme as Flying Whales fourth production site.
The LCA60T airship Flying Whales is developing is 200 meters long and has a payload capacity of 60 tons. The airship uses helium as lifting gas and it has the ability to hover over a specific location, which does away with the need to use purpose-built facilities for its loading and unloading. It doesn’t require a crew to be onboard either.
Flying Whales is exploring a broad range of applications in the freight sector.
Earlier in 2023, the startup has signed agreements with, both, European space company Arianespace, to carry rocket components, and with Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, a French shipping company that has a key role in Airbus’ supply chain and is also exploring low carbon ways to transport cargo over long distances.