Future of flight challenge is given go-ahead
The Future Flight Challenge has been announced by the Prime Minister to support exciting new technologies that will accelerate adoption of innovative aircraft such as flying urban taxis, electric passenger planes and even freight-carrying drones.
The Government will provide £125m through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which will be supported by industry co-investment of up to £175 million.
The Future Flight Challenge is delivered by UK Research and Innovation. 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, to create compelling concept studies will open on 30 September 2019. There will be a briefing about the challenge by videoconference on the morning of 5 September; can register for the briefing by following the link https://ukri.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6TLBxlCFSMKOix9zyr4NXQ.
UK Research & Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
“The development of innovative, clean aviation and aerospace technologies provides an opportunity to reimagine the transportation of people and goods, with the potential to improve connectivity and alleviate issues such as road congestion.
“The Future Flight Challenge will build on the UK’s leading position in aerospace and aviation to develop technologies which will deliver benefits across the environment, the economy and society.”
Key stakeholder groups have welcomed the announcement:
Paul Everitt, Chief Executive, ADS (the trade organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors) 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.”
Jane Middleton, Chair of UK Airlines, said:
“Future Flight offers the opportunity for the UK Airlines, considered to be some of the most innovative businesses globally, to engage in developments that will transform the aviation industry. Airlines UK look forward to being part of Future Flight and ensuring that the UK’s aviation sector remains at the forefront of global innovation.”
Gary Elliott, Chief Executive, Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), said:
"The ATI helps UK aerospace develop the technologies for greener and quieter aircraft, and is fully aligned with the Future Flight Challenge.
"Future Flight will prepare the UK for the coming revolution in air transport, ushering in new aircraft powered by hybrid-electric or electric propulsion, controlled with AI or autonomous systems, and operated in a fully-integrated airspace.
"Today's announcement opens huge new possibilities for innovation and positions the UK to lead in the technologies underpinning this exciting future. We have the right skills, capability and infrastructure, and Future Flight will be able to leverage all of those to the UK's advantage."
Mike Foster, Chair of British Aviation Group, said:
“To fully realise the benefits of hybrid and electric aircraft, including those with Vertical or Short Take Off and Landing capability, consideration of their role within a wider national transport system, and of the associated infrastructure requirements both in the air and on the ground to support safe, sustainable and effective operation is required. The British Aviation Group is the leading representative body for British companies involved in aviation and airport development and operations and we welcome the announcement of the Future Flight Challenge which positions the UK to lead on these developments in a systematic, holistic way.”
The Future Flight Challenge is part of a next wave of major industrial and societal challenges to receive investment from the government’s industrial strategy.
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