Business Minister, Paul Scully has announced that a funding of £84 million will be invested in the aerospace industry in the UK to work towards the government’s plans of zero-emission flights. It is part of the wider £3.9 billion government-industry collaboration into aerospace research and development projects, which started in 2013 and runs through to 2026. The collaboration is managed through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and is delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme. Paul Scully stated that, “this multi-million-pound boost will help to secure up to 4,750 jobs in these projects spanning the UK, and could pave the way to technological advances that will allow the industry to build back better and greener following the COVID-19 pandemic – and help tackle climate change.”
Figure 1: Aircraft in Landing, 2018.
The Investing Parties
The investment will fund three projects, which have been selected by:
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)
- Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The chosen project developments will use alternative energy sources of hydrogen or electricity, to reduce the aerospace industry’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Innovative aerospace technology is rapidly developing, meaning there is a potential for zero-emissions flights to commence as early as the of 2023.
The aviation sector is crucial for the achievement of net-zero commitment, which the UK government is also hoping to achieve by the establishment of the Jet Zero Council. It is a partnership between industry and government, bringing together ministers and industry stakeholders to drive the delivery of new technologies and innovative ways of cutting aviation emissions. Simon Edmonds, Innovate UK’s Deputy Executive Chair, says “The need to change how we fly has never been more pressing, moving towards a zero-carbon powered aircraft is one way we can cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Three Winning Projects
Three projects have been chosen to receive the funding, which will use British innovation and expertise in green technology to power zero-emissions flights.
The projects which will receive funding are:
- GKN Aerospace-led project H2GEAR , which will receive a total of £27.2 million government grant. The funding will be used to develop an innovative liquid hydrogen propulsion system (component that propels the aircraft forward), which will be used for regional air travel that could be scaled up for larger aircraft and longer journeys.
- ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer II project will receive a total of £12.3 million government grant to scale up its zero-emissions engines for demonstration on a 19-seater aircraft, which will showcase its significant technological advances, meaning that customers can expect to fly on zero-emissions aircraft as of 2023.
- InCEPTion, led by Blue Bear Systems Research, is receiving a total of £2.8 million government grant to develop a fully-electrified, zero-emissions propulsion system for aircraft. Such aircraft will have many beneficial factors, including being powerful, quiet, efficient and could be used for smaller aircraft, travelling short distances, such as within the same city.
The projects, which are based in Bristol, Bedford and Cranfield, are receiving a combined investment, receiving half from the government through the ATI programme, while the second half will be matched by industry.
The Chief Executive of ATI, Gary Elliott said during the announcement in January: “Today’s announcement shows how the ATI through its long-term funding is stimulating research in technologies to deliver future zero-emission flight. The ATI Programme is focused on innovation and sustainability: keeping the UK aerospace sector at the forefront of next-generation technology. And we are delivering vital support for companies both large and small – securing thousands of jobs across the country and generating strong economic return to the UK.”
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 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (January 2021), £84 million boost for technology to power a green aviation revolution, Government UK.
 UK Research and Innovation (January 2021), £84 million green aviation technology boost, UK Research and Innovation.
 Waterman, G. (January 2021), UK Government announces £84 million boost for green aviation technology, Climate Action. Lars, Nissen (2018), Aircraft Landing, Pixabay.