Bastien Lefrançois

Bastien Lefrançois

Expert on LTA technology
 Bastien Lefrançois
LTA Technology and Services


Trained as a systems engineer, Bastien Lefrançois caught the early opportunity to fall into the universe of lighter than air. First becoming a hot air balloon pilot, and very soon as an airship ground crew member in Total Pole Airship. There he gained great experience through contact with an experienced flight and ground crew, an actual flying airship, and the ups and downs of operating an airship.

Attached to the significant difference between theory and practice, he kept on building up this young experience by joining Projet Sol'R in designing, building and flying Nephelios, the first manned, solar-powered airship.

A sidestep in aviation industry, as an Avionics Modification Engineer at Dassault Falcon Service, consolidated the industrial side of this field-oriented experience, and brought him up to maturity to join the earliest steps of the Flying Whales adventure. In this program where everything had to be built from scratch, he focused on building up the architecture of the airship in itself and the specifications of its subsystems. Always attached to the final purpose and to the importance of the real operational environment, he also focused on designing and specifying the service and the operational environment, fundamental hidden side of flying an airship.

Meanwhile, he kept on gaining experience in hot air ballooning, becoming a commercial pilot and a flight instructor.

After long years of bringing field experience into the theory of a long-term program he turned back closer to flight of smaller aerostats, becoming a key member of ground and flight testing and flight operations at Hemeria Airship.

He is very much attached to the question of which role airships can actually take in the industrial environment of the 21st century, given the weather-driven economical constraints. On that purpose, he loves sharing his knowledge and experience.

Then, a few words about the first manned, solar-powered airship Nephelios :

In late 2007, Projet Sol'R aimed to celebrate the centenary of Louis Bleriot's first crossing of the English Channel in an airplane. On that purpose they designed, built and flew the first manned, solar-powered airship Nephelios, a 1-seater, 350 m3 ultralight blimp.

The project was successful in many aspects. First, the airship is among the happy few of the 21st century to have joined the atmosphere in delightful winter and spring flights. Besides it, it gave the project crew an valuable lesson of airship design : a ground incident put the finger on the major issue of operability.