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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Plans to Operate The World’s First Hydrogen-Electric Aircraft in Orkney Take Flight  

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Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS), pioneers in zero-emissions flight, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which could deliver the world’s first commercial zero emissions air service in Orkney. 

The MOU is the next step in Project Fresson – the development of hydrogen propulsion for Britten-Norman Islander aircraft – and aims to have the first operational hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander aircraft flying in Kirkwall by 2027.  

Loganair has been supportive of Project Fresson since its inception but the MOU between the two companies signifies an enhanced level of collaboration, leveraging their collective expertise.  

Their strategic alliance encompasses operational requirements and design, standards and regulations, infrastructure development, and stakeholder engagement.

The ultimate objective is to ensure the commercial rollout of the hydrogen-powered Islander, with a specific target of introducing the world’s inaugural hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander into operational service within the Orkney region. 

Driven by a commitment to sustainability, Loganair has set an ambitious goal of achieving Net Zero across its entire operations by 2040.

The airline’s proactive approach toward implementing sustainable aviation, includes the potential adoption of CAeS’s hydrogen fuel cell technology into its Islander fleet. 

Paul Hutton, CEO, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, said: 

“This Memorandum of Understanding marks a significant stride toward achieving zero-emission flight in the Orkney Islands and potentially enabling the first zero emissions passenger air service, right here in the UK.

“Collaborating closely with Loganair, we aim to harness our combined experience and expertise to address the operational and infrastructure considerations, ultimately ensuring the successful deployment of the hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander across Loganair’s lifeline routes within the islands.” 

Peter Simpson, Executive Chairman, Loganair, said:  

“As an airline, we are doing everything we can to manage and mitigate the environmental impact of flying.

“Our Greenskies environmental programme, which offsets carbon emissions and invests in future flight technologies, is unique within the industry and our partnership with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions builds on the commitments we have made as part of this. 

“The short haul routes we operate in Orkney and the challenging weather conditions we face, make the ideal test bed for hydrogen-electric aircraft, and we are incredibly proud that we could be offering the world’s first commercial zero emissions flights.” 

Project Fresson is named after Captain EE Ted Fresson who operated the first passenger flight between Inverness and Kirkwall 90 years ago, transforming Highlands and Islands travel and connecting the mainland and islands communities like never before.  

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