Sustainable Aviation Test Environment 2

The UK’s first low-carbon aviation test centre embedded at a commercial airport.


Sustainable Aviation Test Environment 2

Lead Organisation

HITRANS - Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership






Share this project

Project dates: 1 August 2022 – 31 March 2025

About the project

Based at Kirkwall Airport in the Orkney Islands, the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) is the UK’s first low-carbon aviation test centre embedded at a commercial airport.

SATE brings together an international consortium of industry partners, public sector bodies and academia who will work with a range of regional businesses and stakeholders to apply state-of-the-art aviation technology to deliver targeted economic growth.

SATE’s overarching objectives include:

  • Demonstrating the next generation of air services.
  • Ensuring airports operations are ready to support sustainable aviation requirements.
  • Improving regional connectivity.
  • Supporting Scottish Government’s ambition for a Highlands and Islands Net Zero Aviation region by 2040.

The project builds on previous work part funded by the Future Flight Challenge, including the demonstration of the first hybrid-electric flights in Scotland and trialling autonomous flights for delivering Royal Mail cargo between Kirkwall and North Ronaldsay.

Please Note: Funding available is the grant value awarded by Innovate UK.

Project Activities

SATE will now expand to create a UK Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Regional Aviation Systems, enabling pre-commercial demonstrations of novel aviation technologies with proven use cases to commercialise clean innovation in a real-world environment. Use cases will include:

  • Scheduled airline routes.
  • Offshore energy services.
  • National Health Service activities.
  • Island / remote region deliveries.
  • Environmental survey and inspection.

Implementation of these will require advances in technology, regulation, and policy. These are reflected in the cross-cutting activities which include:

  • Establishing a dedicated test environment airspace.
  • Matchmaking technology to community and business needs.
  • Accelerating technology innovation.
  • Mapping out the future Highlands and Islands aviation system.


The Sustainable Aviation Test Environment aims to stimulate inward investment and supply chain growth which is a key responsibility in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. It will also work to secure regulatory approvals including establishing a regional sandbox airspace, establishing an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) hub-and-spoke delivery network, delivering a hydrogen-propelled regional-aircraft flight, and conducting an international demonstration flight to Norway.

To find out more about the project, please contact Innovate UK Business Connect’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for Aviation.

Project Partners

  • Highlands and Islands Airports
  • Arcadis UK
  • ARC Aerosystems
  • Connected Places Catapult
  • Cormorant SEAplanes
  • European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)
  • Flare Bright
  • HITRANS – Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership
  • Hybrid Air Vehicles
  • Loganair
  • UHI – University of Highlands and Islands
  • Windracers
  • ZeroAvia

Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.