Welcome to Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Home Page

The Cargo Airships for Northern Operations website provides you with information on recent and current workshops that address the technologies, operations, and applications of modern cargo airships.

In early 2010 an initiative was begun between the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Statewide Aviation Division, and several Alaska based commercial firms to address the general benefits airship technology, missions, and operations could have for Alaska.

Alaskan public and private organizations have shown significant interest in the potential value of airships capable of transporting large and heavy supplies, fuel, equipment, and building materials into remote industrial sites and isolated villages. There is also strong interest in airships that could transport Alaskan goods, fishery and wildlife products, and enriched mine ore out of the wilderness areas in an environmentally friendly manner. Subsequently, in 2010 NASA ARC and the State of Alaska DOT&PF Statewide Aviation Division, signed a Space Act Agreement (SAA) to:

“…establish a cooperative relationship between NASA ARC and the State of Alaska to collaborate in the organization of one or more State of Alaska-sponsored Heavy Lift Airship Workshop(s). The purpose of the initial workshop is to bring together government and industry experts in airship technology and applications with representatives of potential users and technology partners from the State of Alaska. The workshop will provide a forum to familiarize attendees with the state of the art and remaining technical challenges in airship development, with current and planned government and industry applications, and with the unique challenges and transportation requirements of Industry and government entities in the State of Alaska. During the term of this annex, the State of Alaska and NASA ARC will collaborate, per the responsibilities listed below to organize and execute the described initial workshop and any follow-on workshops deemed appropriate by both parties.”

2011 – The 1st Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop
Based on the terms of this agreement the first workshop was held on August 24 – 25, 2011 in Anchorage, Alaska. Planning discussions between NASA ARC and the Alaska DOT focused specifically on the event being a workshop and not a conference. The intention was that the speakers and attendees would discuss “practical approaches to developing and deploying cargo airship systems for commercial transport of goods and materials to meet the needs of remote communities and industries in Alaska, and Northern Canada”. The workshop scope was extended to include Canada due to the great number of similar transportation, business, and weather issues affecting the two regions and investigate opportunities for collaborations to address common needs in these two regions. The first workshop with great success as a venue that brought together potential users of modern heavy lift airship services with representatives from the aerospace community that are developing modern cargo airships.

2012 – The 2nd Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop
Due to the success of the first workshop the second workshop was held on August 22 – 24, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. The second workshop followed up the achievements of the first one by further facilitating the formation of near-term business opportunities for the manufacturers and users of heavy lift airships. Researchers from NASA ARC provided insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries described their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms discussed how cargo airships could complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world’s leading developers of airships also provided design and operational details on the new cargo airships they’re currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the Alaska financial community presented insights into options available for funding cargo airship development and operations. One outcome from this workshop was a commitment from The Honorable Lesil McGuire, Alaska State Senator, to put before the Alaska State Legislature a bill to provide grant funds to create incentives for cargo airship companies to bring their airships to Alaska for transport operations. Discussions were also begun to consider the possible creation of an Alaska cargo airship competition that would award a large cash prize for the cargo airship that first achieves the criteria set forth for the prize.

2013 – The 3rd Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop
Plans are underway to organize a third workshop to be held July 10, 11, and 12, 2013 in Anchorage, Alaska. The emphasis of this workshop will address the potential options and approaches for creating incentives for cargo airship companies to develop and deploy their airships in Alaska and other Northern areas. Topic areas will include Federal and State government funding incentives, public airship infrastructure investments, private funding options and possible collaborations between the various stakeholders interested in the emergence of cargo airship services in the North. The detailed schedule for the workshop is in the process of being formulated. For information on the 2013 workshop as it’s developed and the latest workshop updates please check out the “2013 Workshop” tab on this home page.

2012 Workshop Testimonials

"Airships rise to the occasion in Alaska" - Dr. Ananthakrishna Sarma, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)
"Great exchange of ideas that should accelerate the deployment and adoption of airships." - Royce Dalby, Avascent
"Alaska Risk Management" With the polar bear and the driver of the Bronco. - Tim Goeders, Hybrid Air Transport, Inc.
"Hybrid Airships are NOW!" - Jon Foltzer, HAT Consultant
"Show Not Tell--Lets do it Together" - Dale George, ISO Polar
"This workshop should dispel any doubts that the market for cargo airships exists." - Dr. Barry Prentice, ISO Polar
"An Eye Opener" - LtCol. Jean Maisonneuve, RCAF
"Key to airship progress is not (now) the technical side but the organization & business sides." - Roger Smith, UAF Geophysical Institute
"Sustainable Future" - John Collette, UAF Geophysical Institute


Who Should Attend the Workshops?
• Commercial shipping companies, air freight companies
• Airship companies and aerospace vendors
• US, Canadian, and other foreign government organizations that employ cargo transport systems
• Construction companies, fisheries, resource extraction companies (Oil, Gas, and Mining companies)
• Venture capitalists, investment fund managers, private equity firms
• Researchers from government and academia
• Government agencies, State and Federal transportation program managers, Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada, military organizations
• Non-governmental organizations (NGO's), humanitarian and disaster relief agencies