Cruise Arrivals


Pioneering aviation project takes off as hybrid aircraft completes test flights

The hybrid-electric Cessna arrived at Kirkwall Airport this morning.

The use of hybrid-electric aircraft above the skies of Orkney has been successfully demonstrated in a landmark milestone for a pioneering green aviation project.

A modified six-seat Cessna 337, which runs on battery power and a conventional combustion engine crossed the Pentland Firth from Kirkwall Airport to Wick John O’Groat’s Airport — the first trial fights to operate on a viable airline route.

It was also the first hybrid-electric aircraft to be demonstrated in Scotland and comes as part of a UK program to transition to sustainable aviation.

The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project is being led by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) and the trial flights were led by California-based company, Ampaire, a leader in electric aviation.

The company sees its hybrid electric upgrades as a catalyst to zero-emission, all-electric aircraft, as battery technology advances and airport charging infrastructure matures.

On a glorious day at Kirkwall Airport, the completion of this set of demonstration flights was marked with a small ceremony attended by representatives of HIAL, Ampaire, the Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council and others.

Ampaire test pilot Justin Gillen said: “Today’s flight to Wick went without a hitch, flying at 3,500 feet and 120 miles per hour. The Electric EEL is easy to fly and we’ve achieved a total five hours here so far.”

“This is an important first step to decarbonising Scottish regional aviation, while lowering the cost of air service,” said Ampaire founder and CEO Kevin Noertker. “It’s a model for what Ampaire will be able to offer regional carriers everywhere.”

Read more in The Orcadian.