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Hebridean Islanders

On the west coast of Scotland one airline has forged a unique and highly valued link with the island communities it serves. David Ransted profiles Hebridean Air Services.
Hebridean’s two Islanders are not often seen together, but were both used to bring visitors to a special event on Islay.
The Britten-Norman Islander’s robust design and construction is ideally suited to the passenger loads, short flight sectors and tight turnarounds on the airline’s routes. It’s also perfect for the smaller airfields and shorter runways on Coll and Colonsay.

From the resort town of Oban, Hebridean Air Services links the Scottish mainland with four of the Inner Hebrides islands: Islay, Tiree and the smaller and less populous Colonsay and Coll. The air link was launched in 2008 by Highland Airways but was taken over by Hebridean on April 6, 2010 when the former ceased flying. Previously owned by George Cormack, Hebridean was sold to the large and diverse Cranfield-based Airtask Group in September 2016. Although now based in Oban, the airline retains a presence at its former headquarters at Cumbernauld Airport, northeast of Glasgow, where the author talked to Ground Operations Manager, Martin McWilliam.

Islanders for islanders

Hebridean Air Services operates two nine-seat Britten-Norman BN2B-26 Islanders – G-HEBO (c/n 2268) and G-HEBS (c/n 2267) – both are painted in the airline’s eye-catching all-yellow livery. While one aircraft and two pilots are based at Oban for scheduled flights to the islands, the second is held in reserve at Cumbernauld Airport for cover during maintenance as well as flying ad hoc charters. The two Islanders joined the fleet separately, G-HEBS arriving in late 2007 and G-HEBO in 2012, although coincidentally they came off the Britten-Norman production line consecutively in the early 1990s. Before joining Hebridean both Islanders flew in Japan where they fulfilled a very similar role to their current occupation, one with Shin Chuo Koku (New Central Airlines), linking Chofu Airport near Tokyo with four of the islands in the Izu archipelago off the coast of Honshu, the other with Nagasaki Airways/Oriental Air Bridge, flying to islands off Kyushu.

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About Airliner World

In the January issue of Airliner World, we bid farewell to KLM’s Fokkers, ending a 97-year association between the Dutch flag carrier and the manufacturer, we examine how a partial privatisation could offer Pakistan International Airlines renewed hope for its future, and we go behind the scenes with launch customer Qatar Airways as it prepares to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000. Elsewhere in this edition, we find out Hebridean Air Services has forged a unique and highly valued link with the remote island communities it serves, we find out how Leipzig/Halle has transformed from sleepy backwater to major European cargo hub, and we hear how AeroLink Uganda is playing a quirky but important role in connecting its home market. We also shine the spotlight on Singapore Airlines’ new A380 cabin, and we bring you a selection of photos from NBAA 2017 and from Orly, Paris’ second airport. Lastly, we bring you our comprehensive coverage of worldwide news, including a full round-up from the Dubai Airshow, plus Embraer eyes an April debut for the E-Jet E2, ATR wins a major order from FedEx, Emirates takes delivery of its 100th Airbus A380, and Boeing delivers the first 737 MAX to China. We also have all our regular sections covering the latest commercial aircraft acquisitions, up-to-date accident reports and developments from the world of aviation training and MROs.

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