Loganair and the University of Strathclyde have partnered with Rolls-Royce and the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) for Project Eilean in a bid to develop more sustainable aeroplanes in Scotland.
The project, which is being supported by Scottish Enterprise, will see the consortium looking at creating an aircraft that is capable of short-haul operations across the Highlands and Islands.
The group will also assess the ability of the Scottish Aviation supply chain to support the industrialisation of such a product.
Project Eilean (the Gaelic for island) is funded by the Scottish Government as part of its drive towards becoming an net zero economy by 2045.
According to the CFMS, the development of sustainable air transportation is “critical” to that ambition and will replace the ageing fleet of aircraft currently operating on the routes.
Ian Risk, chief technology officer at CFMS, has made it clear that maintaining air transport links is “vital” for many communities where other modes of transport were not an option.
“We hope to take a holistic view of the requirements from a wide range of stakeholders to identify the basis of an aircraft concept that has been optimised for sustainability whilst remaining a truly economic proposition for Scotland,” Risk said.
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Risk said the digital engineering skills the centre has developed over the last 10 years would help the partners move away from a “traditional approach” of identifying a single concept based on historic preconceptions.
“Instead, by taking a truly model-based approach and harnessing the computational power of our facilities we can explore a wide range of potential product options, providing decision makers with a far richer understanding of what is feasible and why,” he explained.
“In this way we can ensure that aviation continues to play its vital role in economic development and keeping our communities connected.”
Scotland’s trade minister Ivan McKee said Project Eilean was a key output of the Rolls-Royce Working Group, which was established by the Scottish Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“[Project Eilean] supports our wider ambitions to become a net zero economy by 2045,” he added.
“Decarbonising air travel is a crucial part of that ambition; I am pleased to see this transformational work progressing and I very much look forward to seeing the results.”