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Six Airlander 10 aircraft earmarked for Highlands and Islands

Posted on 03 May 2024. Edited by: John Hunter. Read 708 times.
Six Airlander 10 aircraft earmarked for Highlands and IslandsHybrid Air Vehicles Limited and the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) have announced a plan to progress potential Airlander 10 services for the Highlands and Islands, and substantially improve regional passenger and freight transport by air.

The plan includes an agreement to develop a full business case for the commercial operation of Airlander 10 aircraft in the region for passenger and freight services, through a new joint study, a continuation of earlier concept and feasibility study work. This activity represents a significant further commitment by HITRANS in the research and planning of future decarbonised air services serving Scotland.

To support the potential for new services in the region, Hybrid Air Vehicles will also reserve early production slots for six Airlander 10 aircraft for HITRANS.

Together, with a proven business case and the option of six Airlander 10 aircraft will enable HITRANS and Hybrid Air Vehicles to identify a commercial operator to begin delivering services in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. The integration of Airlander 10 will also support the region’s goals of ‘net zero’ air transport by 2045.

Airlander 10 is a new type of ultra-low emissions aircraft capable of carrying 100 passengers, or 10 tonnes of freight payload, or a combination of both, with up to 90% fewer emissions when compared like-for-like with similar aircraft. It has unique capabilities, such as its inherent efficiency and its ability to take-off and land with limited infrastructure, which make it ideally suited to meet specific needs in the Highlands and Islands and comparable remote and island geographies globally.

Low carbon emissions

The announcement builds on an earlier feasibility study between Hybrid Air Vehicles and HITRANS, through the UKRI-funded Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE), which found that Airlander 10 can substantially improve the provision of low carbon emissions passenger and freight services for the region with minimal investment in infrastructure upgrades.

Throughout 2024, Hybrid Air Vehicles has announced significant progress toward the full-scale production and market-entry of Airlander 10, its first aircraft, by the end of this decade. In February 2024, it announced that Type Certification had begun with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, which would regulate the aircraft for civil aviation roles. In March 2024, it announced a flagship production site at Carcroft Common, in South Yorkshire, with the backing of the City of Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.

Ranald Robertson, director, Highland and Islands Transport Partnership, said: “We are excited to see early concept work progress further towards eventual service. We are committing resources and effort to work with even greater focus with HAV to produce a compelling business case, that will attract the commercial interest and investment required. This is a direct product of the successful SATE (Sustainable Aviation Test Environment) project, supported by UKRI, where the challenges of connectivity in Northern Scotland are proving an ideal test for both the technical and commercial capabilities of new technology.”

Tom Grundy, Hybrid Air Vehicles CEO, said: “We are committing six Airlander 10 production slots for our growing partnership with HITRANS as we develop the business case together because this is precisely the type of game changing air transport service we developed it for. HITRANS, through this further work, has reaffirmed its commitment to bringing new transport innovations forward.

“This decade, Airlander 10 can help open up new commercial opportunities and access to tourism, making it easier to see friends and family, and improve access to vital public services — all the while breaking the link between growth and emissions in air transport. HITRANS are a visionary partner, and we are excited to take the next step forward together.”