In the rugged terrain of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, our team recently carried out a concept study alongside AECOM and the SATE Project Consortium. This collaboration brought together organisations from across the region, such as Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, Orkney Islands Council, HITRANS, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to deliver a clear picture of Airlander 10’s ability to complement the existing transportation network and provide sustainable economic growth.

One core area of the study delved into Airlander 10s reliability throughout the year and in the highly variable weather conditions experienced in the region. Airlander will of course be designed and certified to the highest safety standards, over the range of temperatures found worldwide. This article looks at Airlander’s performance in the weather found in the very North of Scotland.

The effect of wind on aircraft dispatch

Analysing over 13 years of METAR weather data, our study revealed the impressive dispatch reliability of Airlander 10 across the surveyed locations (Sumburgh, Kirkwall, Inverness, Stornoway, Barra, Papa Westray, Scapa). The results showcased that in most locations Airlander 10 had over a 96% forecast service reliability. These statistics underscore the aircraft's ability to operate efficiently in varying weather conditions, minimising disruption to services.

The effect of wind on journey times

Beyond weather resilience, Airlander 10's operational efficiency is explored in the study. Journey times on typical routes range from 30 to 90 minutes. On most sectors assessed, the 95th percentile worst historical wind conditions would result in less than a 15 minute increase in journey time. Less serious winds had an even more minimal impact. The adaptability to varying wind conditions contributes to Airlander’s versatility in providing efficient air travel.

The study concludes that Airlander 10's integration into the Highlands and Islands transport ecosystem could be a game-changer. With the potential to offer high-value, low-emission services, Airlander becomes a catalyst for economic growth, improved connectivity, and sustainable transport solutions. Whether connecting isolated regions or enhancing freight capacity, Airlander emerges as a versatile asset for the region. Not only that, this study validates Airlander 10's prowess in the variable weather conditions the Highlands and Islands of Scotland experiences, and also positions it as a future-ready solution for regions worldwide grappling with similar geographical or weather conditions, while keeping emissions reduction front and centre.

To delve deeper into the comprehensive findings of our feasibility study, download the full report here.

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