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Aviation milestone

First hybrid electric flight on Scottish regional route

Ampaire’s Electric EEL technology demonstrator, a modified six-seat Cessna 337

A hybrid electric flight took to the skies in Scotland for the first time today, marking a new milestone in clean fuel transport.

The test flight across the Pentland Firth from Kirkwall Airport on the Orkney Isles to Wick John O’Groats Airport was the first in the UK, and on a regional airline route.

The trials are part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project, which is being led by Highlands and Islands Airports.  

Funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, SATE is based at Kirkwall Airport, which is also home to the UK’s first operationally based low-carbon aviation test centre.

SATE forms part of the UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, created to test low-carbon aviation technologies, as well as investigate the airport infrastructure necessary to support sustainable aviation.

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Ampaire’s Electric EEL technology demonstrator, a modified six-seat Cessna 337, runs on battery power and a conventional combustion engine.

The company is developing a line of hybrid electric powertrain upgrades that will reduce emissions and operating costs by as much as 25% initially, allowing regional airlines to better serve lifeline routes in Scotland and around the world.

Test pilot Justin Gillen commented: “Today’s flight to Wick went without a hitch, flying at 3500 feet and 120 miles per hour.   The Electric EEL is easy to fly and we’ve achieved a total five hours here so far.”

Ampaire founder and CEO Kevin Noertker, said: “This is an important first step to decarbonising Scottish regional aviation, while lowering the cost of air service.

“It’s a model for what Ampaire will be able to offer regional carriers everywhere.”

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.

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“With COemissions rising 70 percent faster than predicted,” said Noertker, “transition to zero emission technology is critical. We’re pleased to be taking a big step in that direction here in Scotland.”

Graeme Dey, Scottish Government Minister for Transport, said: “The Kirkwall test centre and companies such as Ampaire put Scotland at the forefront of the transition to low-carbon aviation.

“These demo flights are an important step towards delivering our commitment to decarbonise scheduled passenger flights within Scotland by 2040.”

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