October 5 - Heavy lift cargo airships are the focus of the fifth annual Airships to the Arctic conference, to be held this week in Calgary.

In the search for alternatives to the famed ice roads of the Arctic, Canadian officials are looking to use massive airships for moving freight across the frozen north.

University of Manitoba professor Barry Prentice is quoted in the Calgary Sun: "We're at the tipping point - once there's one airship in the sky, there'll be a stampede towards airships." 

If such a shift occurs, it is conceivable that heavy and over-dimensional cargoes could be moved via airship.

Anyone who's watched Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel will know that trucking companies are extremely limited in their access to Canada's northern communities, some of which include vital oil and mining outposts. Furthermore, as climate change further reduces the already short ice road season, such airships could come into their own.

As reported previously in HLPFI, Calgary-based SkyHook International, together with Boeing, is developing a massive cargo airship that's capable of carrying over 80,000 pounds of freight over 200 miles. The HLV - for Heavy Lift Vehicle - is powered by helicopter engines and may become airborne as soon as 2014.

Reports in the Canadian media suggest that 16 companies worldwide have airships in the test phase, with 13 reported to be participating in this week's conference. 

Foir more information about the conference, visit http://www.airshipstothearctic.com/index.html