UK Commits To Spend £273 Million On Aviation Sustainability Projects

air taxi concept
UKRI's Future Flight Challenge was launched in 2021 and is responsible for allocating £300 million in joint government-industry funding to green aerospace programs.
Credit: UKRI

FARNBOROUGH—The UK has announced a series of investment packages it says will be worth a total of £273 million ($327 million) to further its green aviation agenda. Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), formally launched the initiatives on the first morning of the Farnborough Airshow. 

Some £155 million, described as "joint government-industry funding", will be devoted to supporting new projects exploring the use of hydrogen, battery technology and efficient manufacturing processes. 

A further £105.5 million, again described as joint government-industry funding, will go to 17 projects "focused on developing air transport systems and enabling new vehicle technologies through the Future Flight Challenge." The Future Flight Challenge is an initiative run by UK Research and Innovation, a public body sponsored by BEIS. It says it is investing "up to £125 million" on areas such as all-electric aircraft and drone delivery, with a further £175 million coming from industry. 

The remaining £12 million is being allocated to projects that could help clear a regulatory pathway to enable the integration of package-delivery drones and flying taxis into British airspace. The money will be available in up to 12 tranches worth £1 million each; bids are invited from July 21.

The government has also published a paper, "Advancing airborne autonomy," outlining ambitions on "how government and industry can work together to seize on drones' potential £45 billion of benefit to the economy by 2030." Components the paper identifies as required for a successful drone sector include "wider regulatory support to enable routine drone operations" and "a well-resourced CAA [Civil Aviation Authority—the UK's regulator]". 

The statement also calls for a consultation with OFCOM, the communications competition and regulatory authority, "to deliver robust drone communications and connectivity aiming to enable 4G and, in time, 5G for commercial use," and for "a robust program" of wider public engagement to promote the benefits of, and counter negative narratives about, the use of commercial drones.