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Northern Policy Institute recommends cargo airship transportation to far north

An independent think tank in Northern Ontario explores potential for airship transportation of goods throughout far north
Airships referred to in the Alternative Methods of Transportation commentary may not be exactly as illustrated in this stock image.

An independent think tank in Northern Ontario is exploring the potential for airship transportation of goods throughout the far northern reaches of the province.

The Northern Policy Institute (NPI) has released a commentary - Alternative Methods of Transportation – Airships - in which its author, Dr. Barry Prentice, makes a case for the delivery of goods by cargo airship to remote locations as a means of cutting shipping costs while in turn creating investment opportunities through the development of airship related technology and infrastructure.

“The economic impact on the Far North of cargo airships would be very significant because the cost of food transport could be reduced by half, and similarly all other building materials and economic developments would become more affordable,” said Dr. Prentice in a press release.

Recommendations made by the Northern Policy Institute include:  

  • Thorough study of the various alternative methods of transportation to assess their potential in Northern Ontario and determine the stage of the industry
  • Assessment of the range of airship developments worldwide and choose two to three cargo airship designs for more extensive testing and development
  • Study of the infrastructure requirements needed to allow airships to function to their full potential and identify opportunities for private sector participation in the development of infrastructure
  • Identifying the appropriate size, location and cost of a public airdock to support the airship industry
  • Construction a public airdock in conjunction with one or more of the Northern Ontario universities to test and adapt airship technology to operate in frigid temperature conditions
  • Assessment of the economic impact on the near north of setting up a manufacturing location to build airships that are designed to operate year-round in the far north.

The recommendations made by Dr. Prentice on behalf of the NPI serve as a response to the 2041 Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy (NOMTS).

“NPI recognizes the importance of an innovative, diverse transportation strategy that takes all communities into account,” said NPI President and CEO Charles Cirtwill in a press release. “As part of our role to propose evidence based, practical solutions that support the sustainable development of Ontario’s northern regions, we’ve put forward this series of action items that outline concrete next steps that the public and private sectors can use to inform the implementation and management of transportation policies over the coming decades.”

NPI said it will be releasing additional commentaries on NOMTS in the future.