Government unveils new Sector Deal championing low-carbon aviation

The UK Government has unveiled its highly-anticipated Sector Deal for the aerospace industry, outlining plans to funnel £125m into sustainable aviation projects including those developing electric aircraft.

Published on Thursday evening (6 December), the £343m sector deal outlines measures Ministers will take to help the Government achieve the Aerospace-related aims detailed in its Industrial Strategy, which lists the future of mobility as one of the four ‘Grand Challenges’ facing the UK today.

Perhaps most notably, the deal sets aside up to £125m worth of funding for projects researching and developing innovative and green aircraft, including electric passenger planes, automated drones and zero-emission air taxis capable of vertical lift-off.

The funding will be allocated on a competitive basis, with businesses and projects asked to apply for investment through the Government’s newly launched Future Flight Challenge competition – designed to help reduce the 6% of total UK emissions currently accounted for by aviation.

The sector deal additionally outlines plans to invest £13.7m into SMEs within the aerospace and aviation industries, in a bid to help them scale up green technologies and bring them to the wider market.

Launching the sector deal at a Government-led summit in Bristol, Business Secretary Greg Clarke said the deal showed the “Industrial Strategy in action”, combing ambition from businesses within the sector with those of policymakers.

“The UK’s contribution to the global aerospace industry cannot be underestimated – half of the world’s modern large passenger aircraft have wings designed and built here in the UK and every 2.5 seconds, a Rolls-Royce powered aircraft takes off or lands,” Clarke said.

“But we are not complacent. The future of aerospace is cleaner, greener, and more efficient, and we want the UK to be the pioneers of new technology that will pave the way for increased electrification and autonomy in commercial aviation.”

Sector deals

The Sector deal additionally outlines how funding and expertise from the UK Aerospace Research Consortium of universities will be used to help the aviation industry understand emerging technologies and foster a culture of collaboration.

Furthermore, it commits the Government to working with Devolved Administrations to develop apprenticeship standards to train new aerospace engineers, and to partnering with big-name business in the sector to develop localised investment plans.

The launch of the Aerospace deal follows on from sector deals covering construction, the automotive industrythe public sector and an offshore wind deal. The Government plans to publish sector deals covering plastic packaging, quantum technology, healthcare and manufacturing in the coming months.

Sarah George  

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