Close this search box.

Cranfield Aerospace joins Scottish sustainable aviation innovation project

Islander and tech model hangar

An Orkney-based sustainable aviation project bolsters its partnership activity with the addition of Cranfield Aerospace (CAeS) which hopes to get certification in 2026 for its hydrogen drivetrain, ready for entry into passenger-carrying service in 2027.

The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE), part-funded by the UKRI Future Flight Challenge, is the UK’s first operationally based low-carbon aviation test centre based at Kirkwall Airport on Orkney. The project and its partners show emerging technologies along with real-world potential scenarios. They highlight the environmental, social and economic contribution sustainable aviation can make.

CAeS joins a consortium of 13 partners and underscores its commitment to driving innovation and sustainability in aviation. With over 30 years of experience in designing and certifying aircraft modifications, CAeS brings world-leading hydrogen-propulsion technology.

The designer and manufacturer will lead a piece of work that will assess what it will take to safely refuel an aircraft with gaseous hydrogen in a commercial airport environment.

Jayne Golding, SATE manager, HITRANS commented: “Bringing CAeS into SATE as a partner will allow us to continue to work closely with the CAA and will help to accelerate the use of hydrogen as an aviation fuel, plus enable the UK to take a leading role in its implementation.

“There is definite synergy being developed in the project which is important to progress innovation into real-life solutions. CAeS will work closely with consortium partners EMEC, Loganair, UHI, HIAL, HITRANS, and Orkney Islands Council on this specific piece of work, and as part of the broader SATE collaboration with partners ARC Aerosystems, Arcadis, Connected Places Catapult, Cormorant SEAplanes, Flarebright, Hybrid Air Vehicles, and Windracers.”

CAeS recently announced a strategic partnership with Loganair, another SATE member, to debut the world’s first hydrogen-powered Islander in Orkney by 2027.

Jenny Kavanagh, chief strategy officer, Cranfield Aerospace added: “Cranfield Aerospace is delighted to be joining SATE. If, as an industry and a country we are to succeed in delivering zero emission aircraft into passenger service, it is vital that the regulation and infrastructure evolve hand in hand with emerging technologies such as CAeS’s hydrogen propulsion systems. Our focus is on the Islander operations in Orkney, but the outcome of this collaboration will be of benefit to the whole industry.”

A large part of SATE will be to share insights and best practices with other initiatives focused on zero-emissions aviation infrastructure and regulations across the UK. Together, SATE members are paving the way for a more sustainable future in aviation.


For media enquiries:

Laura Sutherland or Scott Wilson, 3×1 Group

sate@3× T: 0141 221 0707

Notes to editors:

  1. Interviews available on request
  2. Supporting materials: CAeS Islander Scilly, technology video explainer
  3. Background information

The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment project (SATE)

The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) is the UK’s first low-carbon aviation test centre embedded at a commercial airport, HIAL’s Kirkwall Airport on Orkney. 

Led by the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), SATE brings together an international consortium of industry partners, public sector bodies and academia who will work with a range of regional businesses and stakeholders to apply state-of-the-art aviation technology to deliver targeted economic growth. 

The Highlands and Islands represents an ideal “living laboratory” for emergent aviation technologies, demonstrating their practical applications in addressing connectivity challenges, as well as creating an emerging new sector with significant job creation potential. SATE is at the forefront in progressing both the UK and Scottish government’s aviation aspirations and has already delivered new airport infrastructure and demonstrated hybrid-electric aircraft and autonomous logistics.

The SATE programme aspires to become the UK Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Regional Aviation Systems. 

While the SATE facilities are based at Kirkwall Airport, Phase 2 involves plans to work with other Highlands and Islands communities and will match the new technology with practical use cases to benefit communities in the Highlands and Islands. 

SATE and its partners aim to:

• Establish a UAV hub-and-spoke delivery network

• Undertake a drone demonstration flight from Scotland to Norway 

• Progress impact and policy work in aviation – including geospatial analysis and socio-economic modelling for the future Highlands and Islands route network

Use cases developed in SATE have been, and will continue to be, supported by Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and Highland councils. Use case projects from the initial phase include serving the NHS, NatureScot, Orkney Food and Drink, Streamline Shipping and Royal Mail.

For more information visit:  

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions

CAeS is a UK-based aviation pioneer which is developing world-leading hydrogen propulsion system technology for aircraft, with the aim to deliver the world’s first, zero-emissions passenger aircraft solution by 2026 with the conversion to the Britten Norman Islander. Through the development of a modular architecture and proven integration capabilities, the business can adapt the technology for use on multiple platforms, driving the transition of the aviation industry to zero-emissions flight.

For more information visit

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge

The UKRI Future Flight Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council, is a £300 million programme co-funded by government and industry, that is supporting the creation of the aviation ecosystem needed to accelerate the introduction of advanced air mobility (AAM), drones, and zero-emission sub-regional aircraft in the UK.

The programme works with industry, academia, government, and regulators to transform how we connect people, transport goods, and deliver services in a sustainable way that provides socio-economic benefits using new types of air vehicles with novel technologies.”


Arcadis is the world’s leading company delivering sustainable design, engineering, and consultancy solutions for natural and built assets. We are more than 33,000 people, in over 70 countries, dedicated to improving quality of life. 

With sustainability at the heart of everything we do, our focus is on maximizing our impact aimed at improving quality of life. The solutions we develop address important societal challenges around resilience, places, and mobility. Leveraging data and technology, we have the capabilities and services to meet client demands driven by global trends such as urbanization, climate change, digitalization, evolving stakeholder expectations and potential unforeseeable events. 

For more information visit: Arcadis. Improving quality of life – United Kingdom | Arcadis

ARC Aerosystems Limited (ARC)

ARC Aerosystems is primarily an e-VTOL aircraft development company based in Cranfield Technology Park, having a core business in aircraft design and integration. The technical team brings experience from Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems and others and demonstrate a track record of innovation and creativity.

ARC also has strong links with Cranfield, The Universities of Manchester, Nottingham and West of England and maintains a strong network within the aerospace and automotive engineering community. In its development programme, ARC has successfully tested several e-VTOL demonstrators proving transition between hover and wing-borne flight. 

ARC is a member the FFC programme as the provider of the electric aircraft for the demonstration of e-VTOL technology.

For more information visit: ARC Aerosystems – Home

Connected Places Catapult

Connected Places Catapult is the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership. 
We provide impartial ‘innovation as a service’ for public bodies, businesses, and infrastructure providers to catalyse step-change improvements in the way people live, work and travel. 
We connect businesses and public sector leaders to cutting-edge research to spark innovation and grow new markets. 

We run technology demonstrators and SME accelerators to scale new solutions that drive growth, spread prosperity, and reduce carbon emissions. 

For more information visit: Connected Places Catapult – The UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport & place leadership.


Cormorant SEAplanes Ltd is developing a practical, adaptable, 7-seat, amphibious aircraft with a focus on sustainability. Sustainability is viewed holistically, beyond zero emissions, to consider: construction materials; the supply chain; and, as a minimal / low infrastructure requirement transport solution, the enhancement of socioeconomic viability for its target markets.

For more information visit: Electric aircraft for a more sustainable future | Cormorant

European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is an innovation catalyst pioneering the transition to a low carbon future.  

EMEC focuses on developing the offshore energy, green hydrogen, clean transport and energy systems sectors, helping to reduce the time, cost and risk of R&D, and support technologies developers to reach the market. 

EMEC operates an R&D ecosystem integrating hydrogen production facilities with battery technology and wind and tidal energy. Green hydrogen produced at EMEC is stored and used to enable R&D activities to test hydrogen-ready technologies and assess where green hydrogen provides the best solution in a net zero economy. 

EMEC’s hydrogen R&D infrastructure features electrolysers, fuel cells, storage and refuelling, for first-of-a-kind and pilot scale demonstration projects exploring how to decarbonise power, heat and transport applications. Projects range from renewables integration, storage and logistics, through to hydrogen-based derivative fuels and end-use case demonstrations, particularly within the maritime and aviation sectors. 

The world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen was generated at EMEC’s tidal test site in 2017.  

For more information visit: EMEC: European Marine Energy Centre

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL)

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) is a private limited company wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers and responsible for the management and operation of 11 regional airports located at: Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick John O’Groats.

Working with our stakeholders, we are committed to supporting the essential socio-economic role of aviation in Scotland by maintaining and developing our airports and the connections they provide for some of our country’s more remote communities.

HIAL’s airports enable lifeline and emergency services and act as regional travel hubs for their communities.  Our airports connect the communities we serve to the UK and International destinations via Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester.

As a private limited company wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers, HIAL receives subsidies from the Scottish Government in accordance with section 34 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 and is sponsored by Transport Scotland – Aviation, Maritime, Freight and Canals Directorate.

Kirkwall Airport is particularly suited to acting as a test environment location as it offers a variety of short routes, connecting Orkney’s island communities through short hops to inter-island airfields.  For example, the connection to 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.

For more information visit: Highlands and Islands Airports Limited – Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (

Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS)

The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) is the statutory regional transport partnership covering Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Orkney, Highland, Moray and most of the Argyll and Bute area (Helensburgh and Lomond is covered by SPT). 

We’re working hard with Councils, the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, HIE, transport operators and other stakeholders to improve transport services and infrastructure in the north of Scotland and on routes to the Highlands and Islands.  

For more information visit: HITRANS – Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership

Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd

Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind Airlander technology. Their first production aircraft, Airlander 10, will deliver up to a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to other aircraft in its various roles, before attaining zero emissions by 2030.

The company’s vision is to be the future of zero-emissions aviation. It expects Airlander to be the first large scale aircraft (capable of carrying up to 100 passengers or 10 tonnes) to achieve zero emissions flight. The production standard aircraft is expected to be in flight from 2023 and in service in 2026. 

The Airlander family of aircraft serve customers in mobility, logistics, experiential travel, and communications & surveillance.

For more information visit: HAV (


Loganair celebrated its 60th birthday on 1 February 2022. It is the longest-serving UK airline still flying under its original name and operates 42 aircraft on a network of over 80 routes. As the UK’s largest regional airline, it serves more UK airports than every other airline combined. 

The airline today employs 800 staff and in addition to being a major employer at Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, it supports over 170 local jobs in the Highlands & Islands, 25 in the Isle of Man and 14 in Northern Ireland where it bases teams of pilots, engineers and cabin crew to deliver regional services.   

Loganair has airline partnerships with major carriers including British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways and United; and within the UK, with Blue Islands to provide north/south connectivity between the Channel Islands and Scotland, and from Scotland and the Isle of Man via Manchester to the south of the UK. 

The airline is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airline Investments Ltd, the owners of which are UK citizens. 

For more information visit: Loganair | Fly To More UK Destinations Than Any Other Airline

Orkney Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council is the smallest local authority in Scotland. Established in 1975, the Council was one of the 3 original all-purpose island local authorities in Scotland. As a council, our activities touch the lives of everyone living in our island community, from schools to the care of the elderly, from rubbish collection to maintaining the county’s roads and from caring for burial grounds to handling planning applications. Orkney Islands Council has an impact on many aspects of everyday life. With around 1,800 staff, we are also the county’s biggest employer. The Council works alongside four other lead agencies in Orkney to maintain and deliver Orkney’s Community Plan. The Council, NHS Orkney, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service all have a statutory duty to facilitate community planning. This group works in partnership with a network of other public, private and third sector agencies across Orkney with the shared mission of “Working together for a better Orkney”. 

For more information visit: Welcome to Orkney Islands Council

University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

UHI is a tertiary partnership serving our communities and connected to their needs. We offer flexible and supported learning from access level to PhD, as well as research opportunities rooted in place and purpose. The diversity and flexibility of our partnership is our greatest strength, allowing us to deliver more.  

For more information visit: Home – UHI