Canadian Innovation

Some interesting news coming out of Canada recently, some of it satcom-related, and some not. Ciel Satellite received "approvals in principle" from Industry Canada to develop a half-dozen orbital locations over North America, right in the "sweet spot" for direct-broadcast satellite TV. Using the Ka-band for BSS spectrum (17/24 GHz) represents new capacity and will probably lead to more innovation. More HDTV channels? You better believe it.


We know RIM’s BlackBerry represents Canadian innovation at its finest, and the Canadarm contribution to the space program is well-known, but we couldn’t help but notice the news from Sky Hook International for a new transport system — using blimps:

A Calgary company will team up with aerospace giant Boeing to build a giant dirigible-like craft capable of lifting heavy loads for the oil and gas, mining and forestry sectors.

SkyHook International Inc. president Peter Jess said the companies plan to build two prototypes of the JHL-40 rotorcraft — a combination helicopter and blimp — before proceeding with a production run of 50 to 60 units.

According to company officials, there isn’t anything quite like it in existence and the prototypes will mark the commercial development of a whole new breed of aircraft.

"The list of customers waiting for SkyHook’s services is extensive and they enthusiastically support the development of the JHL-40."

The patented craft will be capable of hauling 40-tonne loads up to 320 kilometres in areas without basic infrastructure such as roads.

Jess said the first two initial craft would be deployed in the Arctic.

Formerly with Dome Petroleum, Jess said he came up with the idea decades ago while working in the Far North.

Boeing will build the prototypes at its manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania while SkyHook will own, maintain and operate the aircraft on a worldwide basis.

The JHL-40 has yet to be certified by aviation authorities in Canada or the United States and won’t come into service until 2012.

Innovation leads economic development in any business — especially satcom.