UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has unveiled the 17 projects sharing £73m (US$87m) in funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies as part of its Future Flight Challenge initiative.
UKRI will work with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure the new technologies and projects are delivered safely and effectively while demonstrating the potential societal benefits of these new developments.
- Using airplanes powered by hydrogen or electricity to open up greener regional connectivity across the UK.
- The Air Mobility Ecosystem Consortium – Placing the UK at the forefront of advanced air mobility (AAM), the project brings together leading experts in UK aviation to develop and demonstrate end-to-end operations that will drive the development of a commercially viable AAM network in the UK, including demonstration flights between a new Skyports vertiport and London Heathrow and Bristol airports using Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 eVTOL aircraft, operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited. Partners include Atkins Limited, Vertical Aerospace Group Ltd, Skyports Infrastructure Limited, Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, Bristol Airport, NATS, Cranfield University, The University of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Connected Places Catapult, and support from EVE air mobility.
- Open Skies Cornwall working with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to provide residents on the Isles of Scilly with regular, reliable drone deliveries of mail and medical supplies.
- Supporting the NHS across Scotland with the CAELUS 2 project, which aims to deliver solutions to real-life problems in care delivery by reducing the time it takes for a sample to get to a laboratory, which will lead to quicker clinical decisions and treatment; and allowing cancer patients to receive treatment in their local community rather than traveling long distances for chemotherapy.
But it’s not only the development of new air vehicle systems that the challenge is supporting. It is also funding a range of projects investigating air space management and safety. SafeZone 3 will make drone flights safer by creating a data service that provides real-time information about aerodynamic hazards in urban environments. Project HADO, meanwhile, will evaluate a live 24/7 beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone service in the high-intensity airspace of Heathrow Airport.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s business secretary, said, “The return of the Farnborough International Airshow after a four-year absence is a clear example of the aerospace and aviation sector’s recovery. Today’s package of support will add to this and help the sector take further steps to seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight.
“Through funding for the latest in green technology, such as hydrogen aircraft networks and medicine delivery drones, we are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the center of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy.”
Gary Cutts, director of the Future Flight Challenge, said, “Over the past few years we’ve seen rapid developments in all aspects of the aviation system. From cutting the length of time someone waits for medicine to arrive, to supplying greener ways to travel, these 17 projects will deliver real benefits to people across the UK.
“But there is still much to do. By involving public bodies and regulators, we aim to resolve these issues in an open and transparent way, allowing real-world demonstrations by 2024.”