Low carbon aircraft are to fly on short routes in Scotland as part of SATE (Sustainable Aviation Test Environment), a project that could transform travel between remote communities.
Part-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the £3.7m SATE project will create the UK’s first operationally-based, low-carbon aviation test centre at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited’s (HIAL) Kirkwall Airport in the Orkney Islands.
Different types of low-carbon aircraft will be tested over 18-months to identify the next generation of air services as well as the operational airport infrastructure necessary to support sustainable aviation.
Led by HIAL, the SATE project brings together a consortium of aviation industry specialists, local Orkney and Caithness businesses, public sector bodies and academia. SATE’s technology partners – Ampaire, ZeroAvia, Loganair, Windracers and Flarebright – will trial a host of new transport options. This will include testing low-carbon aircraft using electric, hydrogen or Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), as well as drone applications for supplying on-demand medical supplies to health centres.
Consortium members will also look at how to implement zero-carbon airport infrastructure using green energy sources, as well as digital networking and the development of resilient communications. The socio-economic impact of new technologies and services in the region, and the skills and training needed to support them, will be assessed also.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Denchi Group, Orkney-based Cloudnet, Air Service Training, University of the Highlands and Islands, The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and Orkney Islands Council complete the partnership.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said: “Project SATE will place the Highlands and Islands at the vanguard of the adoption of next-generation aircraft and spearhead the aviation industry’s response to climate change.
“The project will identify the necessary supply chain and people skills to support the development and testing of the new technologies, with the aim of developing a Highlands and Islands sustainable aviation sector, stimulating inward investment and local supply chain opportunities.
“It will also measure local community appetite for the new aircraft technology, especially on lifeline regional routes, and the potential impact on the regional economy from the adoption of these new technologies.”