Solar Ship Inc.

“Safety is our primary concern, so we really take advantage of the SOLIDWORKS Simulation FEA [finite element analysis] tool to better understand performance and accelerate development safely.”

Andrew Leinonen, Industrial Designer

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About Solar Ship Inc.

It’s a blimp. It’s a plane. No, it’s a solarship. The solarship hybrid airship, which combines the characteristics of airplanes and dirigibles into a solar-powered flying machine, is the first aircraft of its kind to obtain governmental regulatory approvals and fly with an actual pilot.

Developed by Toronto-based Solar Ship Inc., the solarship is a true hybrid aircraft, gaining lift from both buoyant gas and aerodynamics. Its wing-ship design provides a large surface area for power-generating solar cells, allows for short takeoffs and landings, and enables long, self-sufficient flight. The solarship can carry people and freight without the need for fossil fuels, roads, or runways, which makes it perfect for travel and shipping to and from remote areas.

Solar Ship chose SOLIDWORKS® solutions because they are easy to use, robust, and provide design, simulation, visualization, communication, and product data management (PDM) capabilities in an integrated environment.


Using SOLIDWORKS, Solar Ship has accelerated development while adhering to a staunch focus on safety. With SOLIDWORKS Simulation for structural analysis and SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, Solar Ship engineers have investigated previously unexplored aeronautical concepts using computer simulations, enabling them to quickly develop innovations to satisfy the unique requirements of this type of aircraft.


SOLIDWORKS simulation tools also help Solar Ship save time, cut costs, and minimize prototyping. “Simulations enable us to understand how to interface a large, rigid aluminum fuselage with a light, inflatable wing, so that the solar ship is strong enough to withstand flight and landing loads while still remaining light on its feet,” Leinonen notes. “SOLIDWORKS structural, buckling, deformation, and CFD analysis tools have taken the guesswork out of the process.



Aerospace & Defence


SOLIDWORKS Standard, SOLIDWORKS Professional, and SOLIDWORKS Premium design; SOLIDWORKS Simulation, SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium, and SolidWorks Flow Simulation analysis; SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM product data management ; SOLIDWORKS Sustainability environmental impact assessment ; and SOLIDWORKS Composer technical communication software solutions.


  • Accelerated development process
  • Reduced number of prototypes required
  • Fostered collaboration among global partners
  • Piloted first hybrid airship to obtain regulatory approval

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