Highlands And Islands Net Zero Aviation Project Announces Successful Test of Largest VTOL Unmanned Air Vehicle in Europe

An Orkney-based project aiming to deliver the blueprint for net zero regional aviation across the UK shares news of a successful test flight of the largest VTOL unmanned air vehicle (UAV) in Europe.

Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE), along with lead partner Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), welcomed consortium partner ARC Aerosystems to Wick John O’Groats airport, where tethered trials were conducted with the ARC C-600, autonomous aircraft.

The C-600, designed and built by ARC Aerosystems, is the largest VTOL UAV in Europe with a wingspan of over eight metres, 100kg payload capacity, and the ability to travel up to 400km.

The aircraft is fitted with a cutting-edge fixed-wing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) design which eliminates the need for runways, making it perfectly suited to support the needs of rural communities in operations including mail deliveries, fisheries, and windfarms.

Improving rural connectivity is one SATE’s key missions. The project, embedded at Orkney’s Kirkwall Airport, is ideally positioned to serve as a living laboratory for cutting edge developments like the C-600 where its real-world tech can be tested.

Dr Seyed Mohseni, ceo and founder, ARC Aerosystems, commented:

“We are very thankful to Innovate UK and all of the involved parties that supported ARC to finish the flight test of the C-600, the largest VTOL UAV in Europe, and we look forward to beyond the visual ‘line of sight test’ to get one step closer to commercialisation”.

Welcoming the successful test, SATE manager Jayne Golding said:

“ARC Aerosystems conducted tethered flight trials earlier this month and we are delighted to have them here to welcome key stakeholders over the next two days, including some local high school pupils and college students, who are interested in STEM.

“One of our ambitions is that successful trials mean our partners can use the trial data to help showcase aircrafts and technology, allowing them to develop a case for commercial use.

“HIAL’s remote airports are ideal for testing such flights and showing how rural connectivity is vital. With thanks to UKRI and the CAA for supporting us and our partners.”

Published: 25th October 2023