From flying taxis to freight drones: Government funnels £300m into future of aviation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a new £300m investment to develop low-carbon transport, with technologies such as flying urban taxis, electric planes and freight drones expected to be supported.

In December 2018, the UK Government unveiled its highly anticipated Sector Deal for the aerospace industry,

In December 2018, the UK Government unveiled its highly anticipated Sector Deal for the aerospace industry,

Announced this week, the new investment will feature £125m of Government funding, with co-investment of up to £175m to be provided by industry.

In addition, five transport research networks will receive £5m to assist work in developing cleaner fuels and technologies that can reduce emissions and improve air quality. The new transport research networks will be led by the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds, the University of Durham, Cardiff University and University College London. The funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From our shopping choices to planning our holidays, we rightly want to make decisions that protect the planet. This £300m investment will help speed up the development of greener flights, and new ways of delivering the goods we order online.

“The UK is already recognised around the world as a centre for green tech. Now we will lengthen our lead, supporting our industry and our citizens to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Sector Deal

In December 2018, the UK Government unveiled its highly anticipated Sector Deal for the aerospace industry, outlining plans to funnel £125m into sustainable aviation projects including those developing electric aircraft.

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.

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 Future of Flight Challenge is delivered by UK Research and Innovation and will initially focus on smaller aircraft and freight-carrying drones to prove the concept of low-carbon aerospace technology, before developing them for larger passenger aircraft.

Earlier in the year, the chief technology officers of seven major aerospace manufacturers released a joint statement outlining how the firms are committed to sharing best practice to decarbonise the sector as it approaches its "third era" of electrification and digitalisation.

Chief technology officers from Airbus, The Boeing Company, Dassault Aviation, GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran and United Technologies Corporation issued the joint statement to highlight how the industry is “working at an unprecedented level” to mitigate climate change impacts.

Matt Mace



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