Green technology which could one day be used for taxi-like aircraft is set to revolutionise the aviation industry, with potential for zero-emissions air travel by 2023.
Nearly 5,000 jobs could be secured in making the UK’s aviation sector greener, thanks to a multi-million-pound boost for three pioneering research and development projects announced today (Thursday 28 January) by Business Minister Paul Scully.
The winning projects represent a total investment of £84.6 million – half from the government, delivered through the ATI Programme, and matched by industry.
Each of the three projects will use British innovation and expertise in green technology to power zero-emissions flights, using alternative energy sources of hydrogen or electricity to reduce the industry’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels.
From Bristol to Coventry and Cranfield to Orkney, these projects could help secure up to 4,750 design, engineering and manufacturing jobs.
Not only could this technology enable passengers to travel abroad in a greener fashion, in future it could enable the skies to be used for travelling much shorter journeys, similar to a local taxi service, reducing congestion on road networks, and allowing passengers to travel more quickly and locally.
Innovative aerospace technology is rapidly developing, meaning that there is the potential for zero-emissions flights to be a reality as early as the end of 2023.
Minister for Business, Paul Scully, said: “These trailblazing projects are broadening the horizons of future air travel, towards a greener future where we may be able to hail taxis from the sky rather than on our streets.
“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.”
The following three projects are receiving funding:
- GKN Aerospace-led project H2GEAR will receive a £27.2 million government grant to develop an innovative liquid hydrogen propulsion system (a component that propels the aircraft forward) for regional air travel, which could be scaled up for larger aircraft and longer journeys.
- ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer II will receive a £12.3 million government grant to scale up its zero-emissions engines for demonstration on a 19-seater aircraft, showcasing its significant technological advances, meaning that customers can expect to fly on zero-emissions aircraft as early as the end of 2023.
- InCEPTion, led by Blue Bear Systems Research, is receiving a £2.8 million government grant to develop a fully-electrified zero-emissions propulsion system for aircraft, that is powerful, quiet and efficient and could be used for smaller aircraft travelling short distances – even within the same city.
The government is committed to helping advance the UK’s future transport system through its extensive R&D Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024/5. This investment comes ahead of our consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, with jet zero and low carbon aviation as a key pillar to building back greener.
The announcement of today’s grant winners is the latest in government support for the aerospace sector. It forms part of a wider £3.9 billion government-industry investment in aerospace research and development projects from 2013 to 2026 through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and delivered through the ATI Programme.
During the pandemic, aerospace companies have been able to benefit from the government’s extensive business support measures including furlough, CBILs, and Bounce Back loans. The aerospace sector and its aviation customers are being supported with almost £11 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and grants for research and development.
Gary Elliott, Chief Executive of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said: “Today’s announcement shows how the Aerospace Technology Institute (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.”
Simon Edmonds, Innovate UK’s Deputy Executive Chair, said: “The need to change how we fly has never been more pressing, moving towards zero-carbon powered aircraft is one way we can cut greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in innovative UK companies and technologies we can ensure momentum is maintained and the country is well positioned in the markets that will emerge.
“Each of these projects are extremely exciting and we look forward to working with the partners to ensure their success.”