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UK Government backs Low Carbon Aerospace Technology Innovation Fund to support job opportunities for global aviation green revolution

Among the low-carbon aerospace technologies being funded are solar-powered aircraft, ultra-efficient wings and medical drones.

The Aerospace Institute of Technology estimates that projects under the ATI program are set to provide 81,000 jobs, while contributing £97bn of economic value to the UK.

This funding aims to help the UK aerospace sector take advantage of the jobs and growth opportunities from the global green flight revolution and other emerging sectors such as drone technology – which have already been seen taking off in the medical sector and the NHS .

The projects could create more than 8,800 jobs

The new £155m of joint funding from government and industry is supporting new projects unlocking the latest green aerospace technologies and innovations – such as hydrogen and battery technology – as well as scaling up ultra-efficient manufacturing processes and technologies – such as digital and additive manufacturing.

They will generate additional job opportunities and leadership positions in emerging technologies and sectors, with an additional £105.5m of Government funding to be shared by projects focused on developing air transport systems and providing new technologies for vehicles through the Future Flight Challenge.

The government predicts these projects could create more than 8,800 jobs, as well as make highways safer and improve travel times by using electric drones to monitor hazards.

They will be able to use electric drones to distribute medical treatments across Scotland, as well as to cancer patients who live in remote regions, reducing distribution costs.

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ready to fly at sunset
© Dreamstime Agency

The Business Secretary will also announce up to £12 million to be made available through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support initiatives that can unlock the industries of the future through regulation – from flying cars to vaccine-carrying drones.

Finally, a Drone Ambition Statement was also published, outlining how government and industry can work together to take advantage of drones’ potential of £45bn of benefits to the economy by 2030.

Competition winners of the Institute of Aerospace Technology program are supported by £155m of funding, which includes:

  • High Density Aerospace Solar Power led by Microlink Devices UK – £6.7m to provide high volume, highly automated manufacturing capability for the UK of solar cells that can be used on electric aircraft
  • UToPEA led by Yasa – – £11.1 million to transfer knowledge of high power, high torque, super low weight electric motors and power electronics from the premium automotive sector to the urban air mobility (electric air taxi) market. YASA’s aerospace division was spun off as Evolito Ltd in 2021
  • Airbus-led eXtra High Performance Wing – £19.9m to develop ultra-wide-span wings delivering significant performance benefits through weight reduction
  • NGC3 led by Crompton Technology Group – £5.3m to develop weight reduction components aimed at facilitating carbon composite wings

17 projects will share £105.5m of funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. Projects will work with the Civil Aviation Agency to ensure they are delivered safely and efficiently. They include:

  • HEART project based in Orkney and Bedford – £10 million to explore the use of hydrogen or electric powered aircraft to open up greener regional connectivity in the UK
  • Open Skies Cornwall – £2.4m to work with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to use drones to provide residents of the Isles of Scilly with regular and reliable deliveries of mail and medical supplies
  • CAELUS 2, based in Scotland – £10.1 million to use electric drones to help distribute medical products and medicines in Scotland, including helping cancer patients be treated in their local community rather than requiring them to travel
  • Reading-based Skyway – £12.9m to use drones to quickly and efficiently survey infrastructure such as motorways and ports, reducing the need for costly transport system closures and improving delivery times

Additional funding for technology and innovation initiatives

£12 million has also been added to the funding pool provided through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support local authority initiatives that can enable the UK’s regulatory environment to keep pace with better, greener innovation.

Previous funding further supported the development of a world-first crash-proof container regime that drones can use to transport sensitive goods such as vaccines and a project to unlock regulatory barriers to flying taxis.

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