A part-plane-part-airship could be the solution to deliver more freight around Scotland’s Highlands and islands, a study has suggested.
The Airlander 10, designed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), could provide 79% more cargo than was carried on air routes in Scotland in 2021.
That figure is according to research from public transport body Hitrans, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Orkney Islands Council and Glasgow-based airline Loganair.
The aircraft, the world’s longest at 302ft (92m), could operate from sites in Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and the Highlands.
Combining airship and fixed-wing aircraft technology, the Airlander would be able to carry 100 passengers or ten tonnes of freight.
HAV, based in Bedford, has said up to 24 new aircraft could be produced every year, with the work supporting 1,200 jobs.
Test flights and electric plans
HAV has previously completed six successful test flights of the Airlander in England using a prototype.
However, the prototype was retired in November 2017 after a safety system deflated the vehicle when it broke free from its mooring mast.
A subsequent investigation found that failure to insert locking safety pins properly was the “root cause” of the incident.
It said there was “no evidence of structural or functional failure”.
Hybrid Air Vehicles, which has proposed constructing Airlanders at a purpose-built facility in South Yorkshire, said it has been working on an all-electric variant of the veichle.
The company has previously said it would be a “zero-carbon emissions aircraft”.
The results of the study by consultants AECOM suggested the aircraft could add 43,800 tonnes of freight a year – which is equivalent to 21.9m extra average-sized parcels.
Researchers looked at the potential of landing sites at Kirkwall, Scapa Bay and Papa Westray in Orkney, Stornoway and Barra in the Western Isles, Sumburgh in Shetland and Inverness Airport.
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