Introducing the Airlander hybrid aircraft into the Highland and Island communities in the North of Scotland could bring multiple economic benefits, according to a new study from Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV).

The concept study highlighted how the aircraft could help to decarbonise regional travel, add freight capacity and provide economic growth through tourism. It also analysed the forecast dispatch availability and found that Airlander would provide a high dispatch availability when surveyed against historic weather data and can operate successfully from a range of airports, small Island airfields and bodies of sheltered water.

The study concluded that the integration of Airlander into established inter-island transport services could greatly improve regional connectivity, offering a significant expansion of current services, in an area that has been traditionally hard to serve given its outlying islands and highly variable weather conditions.

Tom Grundy, CEO of HAV, said, “Airlander has the potential to revolutionise life in the Highlands and Islands, by offering cost-effective and sustainable mobility that fosters improved passenger, freight and logistics connectivity for previously isolated communities, and boost employment, commerce and tourism. We are thrilled with the results of the study, which confirm the important role Airlander can play, and our partnership with the wider consortium. We look forward to taking further steps toward offering ultra-low emission Airlander services.”

According to HAV, Airlander represents a new category of transport that will enable initially low emissions services with the promise of modification to zero emissions (using electric propulsion and green hydrogen fuel cells). This will assist the region to attain the goal of a net zero Scottish regional air transport by 2040.

The concept study was part funded by the UK Government through UKRI funding to the SATE (Sustainable Aviation Test Environment) project, and was supported by AECOM, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Orkney Islands Council (OIC) and Loganair.

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