Government Announces Launch of £300M Investment in Cleaner Flight Solutions

In a press release on 24 September from the Department for Transport, Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Secretary of State – BEIS Andrea Leadsom and Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, it was announced that UK innovators would have more than £300 million investment, to develop cleaner, greener forms of transport.

The government stated that it will provide £125 million, which will be supported by industry co-investment of up to £175 million to support exciting new technologies including flying urban taxis, electric passenger planes and even freight-carrying drones.

Industry insiders will be aware that the Future Flight Challenge was announced earlier on 6 December 2018 as part of the previous government’s Aerospace Sector Deal, with the £125 million coming from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Saturday’s launch of the Future Flight Challenge had been planned originally for April 2019.

  • In response to the present government’s announcement, ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said:

“The Future Flight challenge will help UK industry to maximise the opportunity of developing and manufacturing the cleaner, quieter and more technologically advanced aircraft of tomorrow.

Our innovative aerospace industry is set to fast-track the electrification of flight, explore the global potential of new urban mobility solutions and pioneer autonomous aviation.

This new era of technological progress in aviation will help to both tackle global environmental challenges and create new industrial opportunities that can bring prosperity to communities across the UK.”

Alongside the Future Flight Challenge, five new transport research networks will receive a £5 million cash injection from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for their work developing cleaner forms of fuel and other tech innovations to 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.

  • Prime Minister Johnson said:

“From our shopping choices to planning our holidays, we rightly want to make decisions that protect the planet.

This £300 million 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.”

  • Business Secretary Leadsom said:

“The possibilities for new ways to transport goods and services – or to get from A to B – are endless.

This investment will help make the most of the exceptional talent and expertise we have in these industries, and ensure the U.K. leads the way internationally in designing and developing technology, from electric taxis to drones delivering parcels.”

  • Transport Secretary Shapps said:

“New technologies like electric and autonomous aircraft can help us tackle climate change, making journeys greener and working better for passengers.

This funding will support the extraordinary talents of UK industry and academia, and demonstrate our country’s position as a world-leading transport innovator.”

The Future Flight Challenge is delivered by UKRI. Industry will initially focus on smaller aircraft and drones to ensure the suitability of the new technologies before developing them for larger passenger aircraft.

The first Future Flight Challenge competition will open on 30 September 2019.