Affairs. Delastek has been selected to manufacture the cockpit of a revolutionary new means of air transport designed to transport high-volume parts in remote or inaccessible areas.
Along with engine manufacturer Pratt & Withney and Thales Canada, the Shawinigan-based company is one of three partners working with Flying Whales to build the LCA60T, a 200-meter-long, 60-meter-diameter airship at its widest.
“It’s a big project, asserts Andy Lessard, Director of Business Development at Delastek, the company founded by his father Claude Lessard in 1984. And it is clearly Shawinigan SME’s recognized expertise in manufacturing the cabins of the Airbus A220 (formerly Bombardier CSeries) that drove Flying Whales to associate it with the ambitious project in which the Quebec government has already invested $75 million.
“In terms of rendering, it’s going to look like what we do to airplanes, but it’s very different in terms of engineering,” he adds. In addition to the cockpit, Delastek engineers will have to design the crew rest area as well as the cabin of the crane operator responsible for loading and unloading equipment.
With a payload of 96 meters long, 8 meters wide and 7 meters high, this modern airship will have a payload capacity of 60 tons. Performing vertical take-offs and landings, the airship will load and unload equipment during flight. Its proponent points out the possibility, for example, of transporting wind turbine blades, hydraulic turbines or forestry and mining equipment over thousands of kilometers to remote areas of the far north of Canada.
Delastek is still only in the early stages of operation, and as such is part of the team of engineers and technicians from the Grand-Mère sector working on the LCA60T. “It’s our way of doing things at home. Design and engineering is done in Shawinigan, while the majority of production takes place in our plants in Plattsburgh, USA, and in Queretaro, Mexico,” explains Andy Lessard, who was specifically at the company’s Mexican facilities, when Joined by L’Hebdo.
However, in the case of a future shipping balloon, due to the government’s financial involvement, it will be assembled in Quebec in a new plant whose location has not yet been determined. At a press conference in early September, Flying Whales bosses talked about a horizon that lasted about five years before seeing the first plane fly and about thirty letters of intent signed by potential customers.
The Director of Business Development points out that the spaces currently available at the Shawinigan plant meet the needs, but when the first orders arrive, there will be a reflection and analysis to be done. The option of approaching the site where the final assembly will take place should not be excluded.
More than 70 people work at the Delastek plant in Shawinigan, compared to about 100 in the United States and Mexico.
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