Manaf Freighters announced an agreement to purchase four Solar Ship aircraft, including two short take-off and landing Caracal aircraft and two Wolverine aircraft to be used for cargo delivery and disaster relief in remote areas of East and Central Africa.
The two Wolverine aircraft can carry a 20-foot shipping container with a minimum payload of 5 tonnes. The venture will connect the peoples of the Great Lakes Africa region with global logistics and will provide critical cargo (food, clothing, medical supplies, and basic necessities). The venture aims to improve the quality of life in regions that have, up until now, been inaccessible or diminished by war. The goal of their platform is to access areas where there is no infrastructure so that they can help people in their daily lives and unleash their economic potential.
Solar Ship develops hybrid aircraft to service cut-off, remote areas around the world. The aircraft uses two forms of lift to augment its payload capacity: buoyant lift from lighter-than-air gas, combined with the aerodynamic lift of a wing. Combining a hybrid wing design with electric propulsion, the aircraft can fly large loads over long distances without the use of fossil fuels, making Solar Ship a preferred partner for accessing remote areas. It has extremely short takeoff and landing capabilities, making Solar Ship a new class of aviation, with the lifting capacity of a truck and the performance of a bush plane. The aircraft is able to travel up to 1,000 kilometers carrying over 1,000 kilograms of cargo. Solar Ship is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has research, development and manufacturing facilities situated at Brantford Municipal Airport (Canada). In May 2016, Aviotec International completed a 20-year Master Plan for the Brantford Municipal Airport which included addressing land use and infrastructure requirements that will allow Solar Ship to expand their research and development capabilities at the airport. The Solar Ship innovation and vision is presented in the video below.
In early 2016, Solar Ship completed construction of a new 40,500 square foot off-grid hangar at Brantford Municipal Airport comprised of a steel frame and fabric structure which will be able to accommodate the next version of their aircraft with a span of 48 meters. All electrical power for the facility is supplied by rooftop solar panels. Solar Ship, and their partner Canadian Energy, were recently awarded 'Game Changer Project of the Year' by the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA), a national trade association that represents solar energy companies in Canada. The award acknowledges the rapidly changing landscape in solar deployment, where large off-grid buildings can now cost-effectively supply their own power needs using photovoltaic power and battery storage, rather than relying on a utility grid connection or a diesel generator.