Chicoutimi, November 22, 2016 - CQFA Chicoutimi College of Aviation today announced a partnership with Quest Rare Minerals Ltd (TSX:QRM), Straightline Aviation (UK) and Hybrid Enterprises (USA) to train and certify hybrid airship pilots for a Northern Quebec shuttle service expected to carry 200 000 metric tons of rare minerals per year. Seven airships will shuttle between Quest's mine at Strange Lake complex and Schefferville, a town with a direct rail link to the port of Sept-Îles.

"The solid potential of commercial airship operations invites us to consider a dedicated program to be developed together with the Regulator as required standards and recommended practices are identified", explained Serge Boucher, CQFA Director. "CQFA, which shortly will be 50 years old, is the ideal institution to undertake such a big challenge."

The Lockheed Martin heavier-than-air LMH-1 hybrid airship can operate on, virtually any surface including snow, ice, gravel and even water, requiring no runways or other expensive infrastructure. This innovative transportation solution will stimulate employment and open business opportunities for regional and Indigenous communities, increasing socio-economic benefits to the area surrounding the mine site. The service agreement represents a value of approximately US$850 million over a 10-year period starting in 2019, with extensions of up to 20 years allowed, in keeping with the current projected life of the mine.

"Project goals are both fascinating and demanding since commercial airship operations draw on traditional expertise with completely new protocols", said Jean LaRoche, FRAeS, CQFA's Director of Research & Development. "CQFA and the Regulator are considering use of a scaled vehicle for training and checking both aircrew and ground personnel. Development of a simulation-based training device as well as virtual reality training aids are also under consideration."

The 2019 entry-into-service is challenging but CQFA recently met with Transport Canada to formulate a groundwork for training and checking standards for the large number of pilots needed by the operator.

Jean LaRoche, FRAeS
Director, Research & Development
CQFA Chicoutimi College of Aviation
640 Orly Avenue, Suite 130
Dorval QC  H9P 1E9