Solar Ship’s Hybrid Airship Design made to Deliver Scalability

Many of us live in areas where access to life’s necessities is a trivial concept. We take for granted our ease of access to critical needs such as food, medicine, and our connection to the world and it can be difficult to conceptualize the challenges faced by those that call remote communities their home. Just as one’s lifestyle must adapt to the realities of a remote community, so too must the transportation solutions that serve the people. Solar Ship’s design philosophy is centred around self reliance and infrastructure independence. Use of renewable resources gives plenty of opportunities to abide by these philosophies while fulfilling the needs of these communities.

Photovoltaics are not just our namesake, they’re a lifeline. Solar panels allow our cargo aircraft to bring along with it the electrical infrastructure that may be missing at a point of need. On the ground, life saving medicine and goods will be delivered while locals take time to tap in to our portable electrical grid. Batteries are recharged during a brief stay while we prepare for the return trip home.

Flight by pure solar power input has been achieved by very few and with limited useful load. Solar Ship’s hybrid airship design is made to deliver scalability and has been optimized with the use of computational aerodynamics tools in collaboration with the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). Solar Ship’s delta wing planform is an ideal shape to maximize aerostatics lift to improve cargo capacity, to maximize surface area to improve solar panel performance, and to minimize drag to deliver performance.

Read more about our solar powered hybrid airship in our recent publication in the AIAA Journal of Aircraft:

Meet The Nabila – Fossil Fuel Free Aircraft

Meet the Nabila, Solar Ship’s latest aircraft. With a namesake that means “born to nobility,” this ship is the firstborn in our new generation of aircraft, and first in our scalable line of Wolverine aircraft. It is another step forward in our mission to deliver fossil fuel free cargo aircraft able to service remote areas. While the Nabila is the size of a compact car, the Wolverines modeled after it will carry several tonnes of supplies to those in need.

Carefully refined with computer models before its manufacture, the Nabila wing’s new shape has led to improved stability, reduced cross-wind sensitivity, and greater control authority. It is also designed to achieve a higher lift-to-drag ratio, a measure of aerodynamic efficiency. It should go without saying that the Nabila is powered entirely by electricity.

The Nabila program represents a way for Solar Ship to continue accelerating its research and development safely, yet at a rapid pace. Where most Solar Ship aircraft built so far have been manned, the Nabila is controlled remotely from the ground, allowing us to build, modify and fly our new designs at a smaller scale with faster turnarounds and at reduced costs. Comprehensive telemetry allows us to validate our flight data against our engineering models, helping us to learn more and make improvements more quickly than ever before.

This approach has let our team build and test multiple aircraft in parallel, and helps us to take the dozens of ideas and improvements off the drawing boards and test benches and put them onto real, flying aircraft for evaluation. Different configurations and features compete directly against each other, with the best elements making their way onto the next aircraft.

Already the Nabila’s flight performance has earned praise from several former Air Force pilots, who no doubt are looking forward to the Wolverine that they can fly themselves. In the meantime, the Nabila will continue doing its work with multiple configurations competing to prove the best ideas for the next generation of Solar Ship technology, heralding the fossil fuel free future of aviation.

Spotlight On: Burundi

For many, dance is purely an expression of concentrated movement – energy, action, and artistry working in tandem. Far more than that, however, dance acts as a platform through which stories are told. In her first Canadian exhibition – currently on display at Leslieville’s Yogathletix – humanitarian-turned-photographer Marie-Andrée Robert explores the evolving histories of traditional Burundian dance, as told through her camera’s lens.  


Solar Ship’s Year-End News Round-Up

So, this is Christmas. And what have we done?

2016, despite its moniker as “the worst year ever” — just refer to the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, and Muhammad Ali, the spread of Zika, Brexit or (how could we forget?) the election of Donald Trump — has been a pretty exciting one for us here at Solar Ship. We’ve had ups and downs, sure, but luckily they have largely coincided with aircraft takeoffs and landings. This month alone, Solar Ship execs headed to South Africa and Botswana to get the ball rolling for what will be an action-packed 2017.

Portrait of a Hero: RCAF Air Gunner Andrew Mynarski


mynarski-ac (1)

Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski. Photo courtesy of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. 

Canada’s Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aviation history is shaped by the brave and the selfless.

The RCAF has a tradition of producing fearless individuals who use their skills to raise the standards of flight, both in combat and during peace time.