Project Fresson, which is a venture looking to create an electric Islander aircraft, has taken a step closer to reality – in the Isles of Scilly.
The project is being led by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions.
A Guernsey-based company, Harrisson Aviation, has forged close links with the initiative and a report in the Guernsey Press in April this year suggested that thanks to these links, the islands could be the first to see hydrogen-fuelled electric aircraft operating in the islands.
However, it has been announced by aircraft manufacturers Britten-Norman that it has signed a letter of intent with Cranfield Aerospace and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group.
ISSG has operated Islanders for many years and has sold one of its planes to CAS to be retro-fitted. The letter is being seen as a commitment to bringing hydrogen-fuelled flights to the Isles of Scilly.
The company has given an undertaking to Project Fresson to continue its support by providing expertise gained from its operations and its understanding of infrastructure requirements.
‘We wish to help bring hydrogen-electric commercial aircraft to the market at the earliest opportunity so that we can help drive our customers’ success in the new age of air transport,’ said Britten-Norman chief executive William Hynett.
Mark Harrisson of Harrisson Aviation and operator GreenAir is hoping to have a fleet of eight electric Islanders operating in the Bailiwick, and has spent the last two years educating people on the benefits of the technology.
He said Fresson hoped to have the first electric aircraft entering service in 2025.
Mr Harrisson said he had hoped that the Channel Islands would be the leaders in this area and despite the news from the Isles of Scilly he remained upbeat. ‘GreenAir are in negotiation to purchase eight Islanders and secure modification positions for all eight to H2 [hydrogen] electric standard,’ he said.
Work in the islands to bring interested parties together was continuing ‘flat out’, he said, and progress was accelerating rapidly. ‘There is nothing easy about it but I am confident we will be among the leaders,’ he said. ‘Very exciting times.’
n Aurigny said in May that it was in contact with a number of possible suppliers of electric and other emerging technology aircraft.