New £3.7m sustainable aviation test centre planned for Orkney

Different types of low carbon aircraft, including electric, hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels, will be tested

A new £3.7 million project to develop a sustainable aviation test centre is being planned for Orkney in Scotland.

The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (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.

The project, launched as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge, which supports the development of greener ways to fly, will operate for an 18-month period.

Different types of low carbon aircraft, including electric, hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels, will be tested to identify the next generation of air services as well as the airport infrastructure necessary to support sustainable aviation and Orkney’s net zero ambitions.

The project is being led by HIAL and brings together a consortium of aviation industry specialists, local businesses, public sectors and academia, with technology partners Ampaire, ZeroAvia, Loganair, Windracers and Flarebright, trialling a host of new transport options.

The consortium partners – which include the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Denchi Group, 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 – will also look at how to implement zero carbon airport infrastructure using green energy sources.

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.”

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