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Does Island Freight Delivery Have An Electric Future?

When transporting freight to most parts of the UK, the key issue is finding a swift way of delivering goods in bulk. That may be by road or rail, with various issues of transport logistics involved including the available infrastructure and proximity to distribution centres.

All that is about aiming for optimal deliveries of the right quantities with the greatest speed and efficiency, but in some cases this is rather harder to achieve, especially where more rural areas are concerned.

While that can mean long roads or slower railways in some cases, the trickiest challenges can be posed by small island communities, especially in Scotland, where deliveries of goods in any amount will come via ferries. As winter approaches, anyone who knows the sea will be aware of how often choppy conditions will delay sailings.

For that reason, it may be exciting to see new technological alternatives emerging, such as a hybrid flying machine that looks half electric plane, and half airship.

Developed by Bedfordshire firm Hybrid Air Vehicles, the Airlander 10 has been undergoing tests that have indicated it could carry up to 79 per cent more freight to the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetlands, as well as remote areas of mainland Scotland. This would amount to an extra 43,800 tonnes a year being delivered by a fleet of 24 craft.

Work has been undertaken on establishing landing sites around the Highlands and Islands, from the famous landing strip on Barra Beach to the more firmly established tarmac of Inverness Airport.

As well as being able to provide much-needed extra freight capacity, the aircraft are zero-carbon.

The idea of using new airborne tech to increase delivery to remote offshore locations in Scotland has already been trialled by the Royal Mail, which has been working on a plan to use drones to deliver mail.

Suffice to say, the Airlander 10 plan could be an operation on a whole different scale.

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