UK Government announces £113m funding for emission-free electric aircraft

The UK Government has revealed today that it will provide £113m through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme to pioneer electric aircraft to tackle aviation emissions.

The funding will support the UK aviation industry in developing cutting-edge technologies for zero-emission electric aircraft. The investment may see the development of electric flying taxis and hydrogen-powered aircraft become prevalent in the country, enabling the UK to achieve carbon-neutral goals.

The sizeable investment will be announced today at the Jet Zero Council meeting, a collaborative initiative between government and industry to expedite zero-emission flight by 2050. The Jet Zero Strategy outlines plans to innovate technologies and sustainable aviation fuels to achieve these goals.

Speaking on the development, Business Secretary Grant Shapps commented: “Guilt-free flying is within our reach, and we are backing the world-leading UK firms whose skills and ingenuity are going to make that dream a reality.

“As the whole world moves to greener forms of aviation, there is a massive opportunity for the UK’s aerospace industry to secure clean, green jobs and growth for decades to come. Together with the companies that share our ambitions, we are determined to seize this moment.”

Mark Harper, the UK Transport Secretary, added: “The Jet Zero Council is helping to define the future of flying – one that’s more optimistic about the sector’s environmental impact while putting UK innovation at the forefront of international aviation.

“As well as developing the next generation of aircraft, it’s also crucial we make the sector greener on the ground, and the call for evidence we’re launching today will help us gather evidence on how airports can reach zero emissions by 2040.”

How will the funding advance electric aircraft?

The UK Government and industry are partnering via the ATI Programme to design zero-carbon technologies for guilt-free flying. ATI has already supported a project by Bristol-based electric aircraft manufacturer Vertical Aerospace, which is developing advanced, lightweight batteries.

It has also financed Rolls-Royce to create the framework of a liquid hydrogen combusting jet engine, which could allow flight without carbon emissions. The most recent example of the Programme’s success was the maiden flight of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered 19-seater aircraft in January.

© shutterstock/Audio und werbung

Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder of Vertical Aerospace, said: “At Vertical, we are pioneering the most advanced electric aircraft in the world, right here in the UK. We are absolutely delighted to co-invest with the Government in developing the lightweight, high-performance, and safe batteries we need to make zero-carbon flight a reality. In the race to Net Zero, the ATI Programme is delivering a huge opportunity for the government and industry to come together to create world-leading British technologies and build British expertise.”

The endeavour will bring a host of economic benefits to the UK

The UK’s aerospace and aviation sectors are two of the best worldwide, employing 230,000 people pre-pandemic and contributing £22bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy. The funding will allow projects throughout the country to secure thousands of jobs across the supply chain and hundreds of millions in private investments.

In addition, the Department for Transport is launching a Call for Evidence for expert industry advice on how to reach the target for airport operations in England to be zero emissions by 2040.

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer of Rolls-Royce plc, concluded: “Rolls-Royce welcomes this announcement from the UK government today. ATI funding enables our partners and us to deliver these exciting projects critical to the delivery of the zero carbon element of our net zero road map and will help position the UK as a leader on the pathway to more sustainable flight.”

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