Britten-Norman Partners with Blue Bear Systems to Automate the...

Britten-Norman Partners with Blue Bear Systems to Automate the Islander

By Manufacturing Technology Insights | Monday, February 15, 2021

HEART seeks to convert cargo and passenger air transportation in the United Kingdom. The venture will concentrate on transforming 9-19 passenger aircraft and will use up to 100 General Aviation airfields approved in the UK.

FREMONT, CA: The consortium of British SMEs and academics announced the HEART project's launch as part of the Government's Future Flight Challenge. For five years, the group will work on the Hydrogen-Electric & Automated Regional Transportation project to build a basis for a truly viable and flexible commercial aviation network that could link the whole of the United Kingdom.

HEART seeks to convert cargo and passenger air transportation in the United Kingdom. The venture will concentrate on transforming 9-19 passenger aircraft and will use up to 100 General Aviation airfields approved in the UK. The collaboration identified the key issues facing regional air travel to solve them throughout the program. Each HEART member will address a particular problem, including lowering carbon emissions to zero, reducing prices for operators and travelers, improving regional airports, and increasing the frequency of services.

As the sole sovereign commercial aircraft designer in the United Kingdom with over 65 years of experience in designing and producing aircraft, Britten-Norman will partner with Blue Bear Systems to automate the Islander. Established as a rugged workhorse, the aircraft performs several functions, ranging from passenger and freight transport to medevac and search and rescue. Its adaptability and short take-off and landing capabilities have made it the backbone of communities worldwide. The project's first milestone would be the demonstration of a single pilot operation with an automated co-driver having access to more knowledge and assistance than human perception alone can offer.

Lara Harrison, Business Development Director of Britten-Norman, said: "We are looking forward to working closely with Blue Bear Systems to produce the next generation automation for the Islander. Project HEART represents an important step towards the future of aviation in the UK. I look forward to the consortium working together to revitalize and expand the UK's regional air transport network."

The breakthroughs of the project would enable regional air transport to compete with conventional ground services. A zero-carbon aircraft that provided higher-frequency flights, with more day-to-day return schedules and shortened travel times, could become a significant competitor to road and rail travel. This is vital to the UK's leveling-up of the plan, strengthening transport relations between the UK regions and towns.

Project participants, led by UAV specialist Blue Bear Systems, include ZeroAvia hydrogen powertrain developers and Protium green hydrogen specialists, Inmarsat satellite communications authority, Loganair regional airline, Highlands & Islands Airports Limited regional airport group, Weston Williamson + Partners award-winning architecture firm, Fleetondemand, multinational vehicle hire company and Edinburgh Napier University.

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