Isle of Wight based aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has signed a letter of intent (LoI) along with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) and the Isle of Scilly Steamship Company to bring hydrogen-powered flights to the Islands.
The plan is part of the vision to make flights to the islands, which see around 100,000 visitors per year, zero-carbon.
Britten-Norman will use its experience as the manufacturer of the BN2T Islander used by Skybus, the island’s airline, to deliver a hydrogen-electric powered Islander allowing the airline to help to protect the unique landscapes around the Isles of Scilly.
Stuart Reid, Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group which operates the airline Skybus, announced: “This is an exciting development in the project and one which we are proud to be a part of. The Letter of Intent for hydrogen aircraft really shows our commitment towards a zero-emission aviation industry and to becoming an early adopter of this cutting-edge technology.
“The Isles of Scilly is a special and extraordinary place and we take our environmental policy very seriously, as well as our responsibility towards meeting the Government’s objectives of the decarbonization of transport.”
The original concept for a zero-carbon aircraft centred around battery power but it soon became apparent that the impact of weight, charge time, and charging infrastructure made a battery-only solution impractical.
By using a hydrogen-electric fuel cell option the aircraft will deliver greater flexibility, higher passenger load, and a 50% reduction in maintenance costs on the engines.
The hydrogen can be produced locally using renewable energy and can be easily stored at an operating base.
William Hynett, Chief Executive of Britten-Norman, commented: “Innovation sits at the heart of the Britten-Norman strategy so we are very pleased to be part of Project Fresson and its aim to deliver zero-carbon travel. We wish to help bring hydrogen-electric commercial aircraft to the market at the earliest opportunity so that we can help drive our customers’ success in the new age of air transport.”
“In striving for a zero-carbon future, it is essential that solutions are practical, affordable, and sustainable and we believe that we are well placed to help achieve these vital goals in a way that will resonate with our global customers, many of whom seek to help protect the outstandingly beautiful places in which they operate.”
Paul Hutton, CAeS CEO added: “It is incredibly important for the future of our planet that we deliver emission-free aircraft and I am delighted to see the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s commitment to this outcome. I would encourage contact from airlines of all sizes who would like to find out how these aircraft can be part of their future.”