The study was part funded by the UK government through UKRI funding to the SATE (Sustainable Aviation Test Environment) project of which HAV is a partner.
The report was supported by AECOM, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HiTrans), Highlands and Islands Enterprise [HIE], Orkney Island Council (OIC) and Loganair, who are stakeholders in the development and potential of Airlander in the region.
The report found that Airlander could help to decarbonise regional travel, add freight capacity into the network and provide further economic growth through tourism. The report also found that Airlander would provide a high dispatch availability when surveyed against historic weather data and can operate 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 in an area that has been traditionally hard to serve.
“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,” Tom Grundy CEO, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said in a statement.
According to HAV, Airlander will enable initially low emissions services with the promise of modification to zero emissions via electric propulsion and green hydrogen fuel cells, which will help Scotland in its ambition for net zero regional air transport by 2040.
Airlander 10 allows a 10 tonne or 100 passenger capacity to be delivered to small airfields currently suited to smaller aircraft, with low-cost and nominal adaptations to existing infrastructure. The total cost of modifying the six airfields surveyed was under £2m.
In the logistics and freight sector, the report found that the introduction of Airlander in the North of Scotland could provide 79 per cent more air freight capacity compared with 2021, representing an increase of 43,800 tonnes.
As part of this study, seven on-site surveys were carried out by engineers across HIAL and Orkney Islands Council’s airport portfolios, taking into consideration historic weather conditions at each site, plus runway, boarding and landing infrastructure to assess the compatibility of these existing locations with the operational needs of Airlander. The locations included Kirkwall, Papa Westray, Stornoway, Barra, Inverness, Sumburgh and Scapa Bay.
“We look forward to working further with Hybrid Air Vehicles to identify the specific opportunities, economic impact and timelines this unique aircraft can potentially bring to improving the connectivity of passengers and freight in the Highlands and Islands,” said Ranald Robertson, director, HITRANS-Highland and Islands Transport Partnership.