World’s ‘most efficient’ aircraft could ‘revolutionise’ life in the islands

A new low emission aircraft is hoped to revolutionise freight and passenger travel in the Highlands and Islands.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) says its Airlander is the “world’s most efficient large aircraft” and could help decarbonise regional travel, while adding freight capacity and boosting tourism.

By using helium to provide lift and offset most of the weight, the aircraft is reported to produce 90 per cent less emissions than conventional craft in similar roles.

It runs on a combination of electricity and hydrogen fuel cells.

HAV said it can carry up to 10 tonnes of freight, or 100 passengers to small airfields, including Sumburgh, subject to adaptations to the existing infrastructure, estimated to cost around £2m.

The Airlander's interior cabin. Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles.
The Airlander’s interior cabin. Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles.

According to a UK government funded study, the Airlander is capable of delivering “cost-effective, low-emission passenger transport and freight” to Highlands and Islands communities.

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.”

The report 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 who are all engaged stakeholders in the development and potential of Airlander and how it may operate in the region and offer new solutions to connectivity challenges.

The report found Airlander could deliver a “greatly beneficial ” addition to the transport ecosystem, with minimal disruption. 

HiTrans director Ranald Robertson said: “I am delighted to see the Airlander concept study published today.

“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.”

HAV says it aims to create 24 new Airlander aircraft ever year from a purpose build factory in South Yorkshire.


Add Your Comment
  • Duncan Burd

    • October 31st, 2023 20:51

    Why a picture of Skye,what’s wrong with Shetland? Not the best advertisement of the islands, unless you are a sgianath.


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