Sustainable Aviation Test Environment


This Orkney Island -based, innovative project will create the UK's first low-carbon aviation test environment, based at a licenced island airport with all year round scheduled air service operations to UK, and regular off-shore oil and gas helicopter traffic. The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) will be a UK first and, should one or more of the new aviation technologies be adopted for island use, it will also help improve the quality of life of the communities it serves (through job creation, improved access to education and healthcare, etc.). The SATE will place the UK at the vanguard of the adoption of next-generation aircraft, and spearheading aviation's response to climate change.

The continued demand for aviation services (air passenger numbers on the 11 HIAL airport network have increased by 33% in the last 10 years) , is at odds with the effects of an international climate emergency. We need to rapidly decarbonise the aviation sector to reconcile these competing imperatives and to reduce the carbon footprint of air travellers.

Indeed, if aviation is to be used as a means to improve the quality of life and maintain or grow the population of remote and rural communities, then the options for the appropriate sustainable aviation technologies must be explored.

The options include the following:

* aircraft (with electric, hydrogen, or synthetic fuel replacing conventional fossil fuels),
* changes to the physical airport infrastructure to support the adopted technologies, and transport to the airport
* green energy supply for terminal buildings and ground operations,
* necessary digital networks for resilient communication between airport and aircraft (particularly UAVs).

Kirkwall Airport is one of an 11-airport, regional airport group, operated by **HIAL** - who are project lead -, and is particularly suited as a test environment location due to the variety of routes it offers which include: short hops to the inter- islands airfields, eg Westray - best known for being one of the two airports joined by the shortest scheduled flight in the world -, and operated by **Orkney Island Council.** In addition there are regular air services to Aberdeen, Edinburgh & Glasgow, with a summer service to Norway. The project team includes technology developers who will be test ready during the 18 months of this project phase: **Ampaire**, **ZeroAvia**, **Windracers**, **Flarebright** and **Loganair**.

Orkney provides options to fly over water, in a challenging environment & climate, for real-world application testing of the technologies. Decarbonisation of the airport, as part of this project, is important to the Orkney community, which is an exemplar early-adopter for other low-carbon technology, and are leaders in decarbonisation, lead by one of the SATE project members, Orkney-based **EMEC**. This test environment offers a number of integrated energy-system opportunities providing significant wider impacts for potential adoption at other regional airports, which is a focus of team member **HITRANS**. The supply chain and future business opportunity interests are represented by Caithness-based battery manufacturers - **Denchi Group** and Orkney-based **Cloudnet ,**specialists in providing digital services for poorly served rural communities. The people skills necessary to support the development, testing and maintenance of the new technologies are of interest to project team members - **Air Training Services** and the **UHI**. If successful, this project should stimulate inward investment and local supply chain business opportunities in this remote part of the UK, a key responsibility for **Highlands & Islands Enterprise.**

Local community acceptance of new aircraft technology, especially on lifeline services, and the potential impact on their local economy and wellbeing will also be measured, and a local community engagement programme is key to this projects success.

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