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UK Aviation Sector To Be Backed By £273m Innovation

5 min

Flying delivery drone transferring parcel box from distribution warehouse to automotive garage customer service repair center background. Modern innovative technology and gadget concept.
Solar-powered aircraft, ultra-efficient wings and medical treatment-carrying drones are some of the technologies backed by £273 million. Quadrant Transport explores how the funding will advance low-carbon aerospace innovation, economic growth, and jobs.

As well as solar-powered aircraft and NHS treatment carrying drones, a package to help the UK aviation sector seize jobs and growth opportunities from the global green flight revolution and other emerging sectors like drone technology will be seen.

A further £105.5 million of the UK Government-industry funding will be shared by projects focused on developing air transport systems and enabling new vehicle technologies through the Future Flight Challenge.

Thousands Of Job Opportunites Will Be Generated

The projects could create more than 8,000 jobs and include making motorways safer and improving journey times by using electric drones to survey hazards and using electric drones to distribute medical treatments across Scotland, including cancer patients.

So far, 81,000 jobs have been created through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, with £97 billion of value being added to the UK economy to date.

In addition to this, £155 million of joint government-industry funding has been announced to support new projects to unlock the latest in green aerospace innovation – generating further job opportunities and the emergence of technologies and sectors.

The Funding Will Support Opportunities For Sector Growth

To back initiatives that could unlock industries of the future through regulation, from flying cars to vaccine-carrying drones, £12 million will be announced to be available through the Regulator’s Pioneer Fund.

Outlining how the UK Government and industry can work together to seize on drones’ potential £45 billion of benefit to the economy by 2030, a Drone Ambition Statement has been published.

Outlined in the Department for Transport’s ‘Advancing airborne autonomy: Commerical drones saving money and saving lives in the UK’ policy paper, that “the shared goal for the sector and government is to enable the drones sector to achieve the necessary technologies and standards to enable safe and equitable integration into existing airspace.”

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng 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 further this recovery and help the sector 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 solar and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and setting out our vision for the fast-growing market for commercial drones.”

We are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the centre of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy.

Backed by £155 million of government-industry funding, there are 31 Aerospace Technology Institute Programme competition winners.

High Density Aerospace Solar Power led by Microlink Devices UK will be supported by £6.7 million to secure a high-volume, highly automated manufacturing capability in solar cells for the UK, which could be used on electric aircraft.

UToPEA led by Yasa will receive £11.1 million to transfer knowledge of high-power, high-torque electric motors and power electronics used in Formula One into the urban air mobility (air taxi) market.

X-WING ALPHA led by Airbus will get £19.9 million to develop ultra-wide span wings, providing significant performance benefits through weight reduction.

NGC3 led by Crompton Technology Group will see £5.3 million to develop weight reduction components aimed at facilitating carbon composite wings.

A Drone Economy £45 billion drone contribution to the UK economy. £22 billion net cost savings realised through the use of drones. 2.4 million tons reduction in carbon emissions. Equivalent to removing 1.7 million cars from the road for a year. 650K plus jobs association with the drone economy. 900K plus drones operating in the UK skies. Skies Without Limits. PwC. 2022. Quadrant Transport.

It Is Essential That The Projects Are Delivered Safely

Through the Future Flight Challenge led by UK Research and Innovation, 17 projects will share £105.5 million in funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. The projects will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that they are delivered safely and effectively. They include:

Project HEART, which is based in Orkney and Bedford and will get £10 million to explore using aircraft powered by hydrogen or electricity to open greener regional connectivity across the UK.

Open Skies Cornwall will receive £2.4 million to work with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to use drones to provide residents on the Isles of Scilly with regular, reliable deliveries of mail and medical supplies.

CAELUS 2, which is based in Scotland, will be supported by £10.1 million to use electric drones to support the distribution of medical products and medicines across Scotland, including helping to treat cancer patients in their local community.

Skyway, based in Reading, will get £12.9 million to use drones to survey infrastructures quickly and efficiently, such as motorways and ports. The aim is to reduce the need for costly transport system closures and improve delivery times.

Transport Minister, Robert Courts said: “The steps we have set out today will ensure our aviation sector remains world-leading and fit for the future, helping to deliver on our ambitious climate change goals and boost high-skilled job opportunities.

Integrating drones into our transport system will play a huge part in better connecting communities, from potentially delivering vital NHS treatments in isolated communities to capturing high-quality aerial imaging for rescue teams.

A Transition To A Greener Aviation Sector Must Be Seen

In collaboration with the Drone Industry Action Group, a Drone Ambition Statement has been produced, outlining how the UK will embed a business environment that supports the development of drone technologies and can deliver 650,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

Working with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, the government will launch a new strategy called ‘Destination Net Zero’ to deliver the sector’s transition to greener forms of aviation.

The funding will benefit the aviation sector by advancing low-carbon aerospace innovation, economic growth, and jobs and will help the UK reach its net zero targets.