French company Flying Whales, specializing in rigid airship technology for heavy-load transport, is planning to establish a manufacturing facility in the UAE.

This strategic move, conducted in collaboration with partners, is anticipated to create approximately 1,000 job opportunities.

Distinguished by its fully electric, zero-emission design, the airship, named Whales, is undergoing certification by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Operating akin to a helicopter, it possesses the capacity to transport substantial loads, such as mobile hospitals, to remote locations.

Sebastian Bougon, Chairman and CEO of Flying Whales, expressed the company’s ambition: “We would like to have a final assembly line in Abu Dhabi to produce airships for all the regions from East Africa to the Middle East to India.

If we set up a facility here, production will commence in 2027, generating 300 direct jobs. Additionally, consortium companies will establish themselves in the UAE to produce parts, resulting in a total of around 1,000 jobs.”

The airship, aptly named after the sea mammal due to its design, can transport diverse cargo, including wind blades, high-voltage towers, industrial components, and hospitals.

Referred to as LCA60T, it is 200 meters long, 50 meters in diameter, and features a 96-meter-long cargo bay.

Remarkably, it can load and unload up to 60 tonnes of heavy or bulky cargo in hovering flight, eliminating the need for landing and leaving no footprint on the ground.

Flying Whales envisions establishing four final assembly lines globally, including locations in Quebec (Canada), Nouvelle Aquitaine (France), Abu Dhabi (UAE), and the State of Victoria (Australia), each catering to specific regions.

Supported by a consortium of 50 leading aeronautic partners, including Honeywell, Thales, Safran, AWS, and others, the company plans to have both Flying Whales Industry and Flying Whales Services units in each location.

Regarding costs, Bougon disclosed that this innovative transportation model is 20 times more cost-effective than helicopters and planes, and only slightly more expensive than trucks.

He emphasized the absence of ground impact during loading and unloading.

Flying Whales is currently participating in COP28 at Expo City Dubai, showcasing French innovation in decarbonizing transport.

The company, working closely with regulatory authorities in the US and Europe, assures the airship’s safety, comparable to globally operational planes.

Highlighting the collaboration with Emirates, Bougon outlined plans to serve 30 bases from the UAE, deploying airships globally to a total of 160 airbases.

This collaboration is expected to enhance Emirates’ influence in regions such as India, Africa, and Turkey, as the Emirates will manage transportation means in these areas exclusively through the established facility in the UAE.



Last Updated: 11 December 2023