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Loganair and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions Set Sights on Debuting World’s First Operational Hydrogen-Electric Britten-Norman Islander in Kirkwall by 2027


Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, pioneers in zero-emissions flight, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which signifies an enhanced level of collaboration, with the view to have the first operational hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander flying in Kirkwall by 2027.

Loganair has been supportive of Project Fresson since its inception but the newly solidified Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two companies signifies an enhanced level of collaboration, leveraging their collective expertise. This 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 to introduce the world’s inaugural hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander into operational service within the Orkney region.

Visualisation of a Loganair hydrogen-powered Britten-Norman Islander flying in Orkney

Driven by a commitment to sustainability, Loganair has set an ambitious goal to achieve Net Zero across its entire operations by 2040. This underscores the airline’s proactive approach toward implementing sustainable aviation, including the potential adoption of CAeS’s hydrogen fuel cell technology into their 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.”

Meanwhile, CAeS continues its pioneering work in developing a proprietary hydrogen fuel-cell (HFC) propulsion system. Initially tailored for the Britten-Norman Islander, this ground-breaking technology holds the promise of extending to a spectrum of manned and unmanned platforms, including cargo aircraft, thereby amplifying the potential for widespread sustainability in aviation.

With both Loganair and CAeS aligned in their pursuit of a greener, more sustainable aviation industry, the target of the first aircraft taking flight in Kirkwall by 2027 post certification in 2026 marks an exciting and pivotal step towards realising this shared vision.