Edinburgh safety consultancy hired for pioneering aircraft initiative

Edinburgh-based safety, engineering and risk-management consultancy Abbott Risk Consulting (Arc) has been appointed to provide safety assurance expertise in the pioneering HyFlyer project that has already seen a key demonstration flight launch from Orkney.

The electric-powered test flight under way at Cranfield. Picture: Zero Avia.

The venture, funded by in part by Innovate UK, aims to decarbonise medium-range small passenger aircraft by replacing conventional turboprop engines with electric motors, hydrogen fuel cells and gas storage – achieving the world’s first zero emissions commercially viable flight.

The hydrogen powertrain technology has been integrated into a Piper M-Class six-seater aircraft with test flights underway in Cranfield, culminating in a 250-300 nautical mile demonstration flight out of Orkney. What is billed as the first-ever electric-powered flight of a commercial scale aircraft in the UK took place on 22 June.

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Arc is providing the safety assurance of the demonstration phase of the technology where standards and best practice are evolving in parallel to the technology.

Leading the firm’s contribution are consultants Ed Macfarlane and Jim Tough. Macfarlane said: “The potential for hydrogen cell technologies to enable low-carbon light aircraft to take off is very exciting. We’re pleased to have been asked to apply our expertise in safety assurance of innovative technologies for this ground-breaking project in its prototype phase.

“This technology is of enormous significance in remote locations around the world, like the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, supported by its network of short aviation routes. It also raises interesting possibilities in conjunction with remote power generation and storage concepts.”

Arc says it is a £20 million turnover, employee-owned business with more than 100 consultants on sites throughout the UK and Australia, providing technical support in high-risk industries.

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