Highlands & Islands consider Airlander 10 as route to boost regional connectivity

A new concept study has been announced as the region ramps up efforts to build a more sustainable future for aviation and help Scotland’s more remote regions pave the way to net zero

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HYBRID Air Vehicles [HAV] today announces a first of its kind concept study to explore the use case for introducing Airlander 10 aircraft for passenger transport and freight in the Highlands and Islands.

The study is supported by a consortium of key organisations including Highlands and Islands Airport [HIAL], Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership [HiTrans), Highlands and Islands Enterprise [HIE], OrkneyIsland Council [OIC] and Loganair.

It is expected that the study – which will take three months to complete – will seek to understand how Airlander 10 could support sustainable mobility in the region, and both diversify and boost connectivity for communities across the Highlands and Islands.

Airlander 10 could significantly cut emissions for travel in the Highlands and Islands, a region where air travel is a lifeline, not a luxury. HAV is currently designing an all-electric variant of the Airlander which will be a zero-carbon emissions aircraft, scheduled to be operational by the end of the decade. 

The study will compare emission reductions with existing transport options and assess the opportunities to operate at non-airport locations, taking advantage of the aircraft’s water operation capability.

The project will also consider Airlander’s potential to deliver freight with a combi variant of the aircraft. With a 10-tonne payload, Airlander 10 could help to boost both regional passenger connectivity and logistics. 

More broadly, it is hoped that by transforming connectivity in the region it will better connect communities that are cut off from other modes of transport and attract more visitors and residents, thereby also creating an economic proposition for the region. 

Inglis Lyon, HIAL managing director, said: “HIAL’s aim is to become a net-zero carbon regional airport group. To achieve this, we need to investigate innovative solutions for sustainable air travel. 

“This collaboration allows us to explore the potential use of Airlander 10 as part of the region’s transport network. A network that provides essential and lifeline services to some of Scotland’s most remote regions.”

Tom Grundy, CEO of HAV said: “Hybrid Air Vehicles is changing the way we think about regional travel and sustainable aviation. This is particularly the case for sometimes hard-to-reach regions such as the Highlands and Islands. This study will, I hope, pave the way for a revolution in green short-haul flights in this wonderful, beautiful, if sometimes inaccessible, part of the world, boosting connectivity and the local economy as we do so.”

Ranald Robertson, Partnership Director of HITRANS said: ‘HITRANS is delighted that this study is being undertaken. It offers an opportunity for us to understand the potential offered by Airlander 10 as part of the region’s journey to net zero aviation.  Airlander offers an opportunity to provide low carbon transportation of passengers and freight with the potential to develop new routes where journey time savings can be realised on current modes of travel including road and ferry.’

The news follows HAV’s recent announcement of its launch airline customer, Spanish regional airline, Air Nostrum Group.

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