The UK’s Heathrow Airport has announced that it has pitched two forward-thinking concepts to Innovate UK’s Future Flight Challenge.

The win provides the airport the opportunity to research new pioneering ideas to facilitate emission and cost reduction, making the airport more efficient.

Fly2Plan and Project NAPKIN are the two projects being researched by Heathrow.

Fly2Plan involves learning how new technologies such as blockchain and Cloud infrastructure can utilise the airport’s data more resourcefully. It also aims to form a decentralised, robust and efficient functioning model to support cross-company collaboration.

Project NAPKIN (New Aviation Propulsion Knowledge and Innovation Network) aims to develop a blueprint to achieve the ambition of zero carbon aviation across the UK.

The airport pointed out that the efficient use of airspace, autonomous drones and net-zero regional flights can help in delivering on the industry’s commitment to ‘build back better’.

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Future Flight Challenge has been backed through a £125m government grant.

This challenge encompasses three main objectives: maintaining the UK’s advantage in aerospace research and development, generating economic opportunities from new forms of air mobility, and reducing aviation emissions.

Both of Heathrow’s projects exhibit the potential to deliver on all three objectives, claimed the airport.

Heathrow has initiated the first stage of the research of these ideas, which will continue until early 2022.

With the long-term goal of wider adoption across the aviation sector, the concepts will be put into action for live demonstrations in the next phase.

For this challenge, the airport is working with several firms across numerous sectors such as NATS, Rolls Royce, Oxford University, Cranfield University, Deloitte, UCL, London City Airport, Highlands and Islands Airports and more.

The challenge has brought together companies in aviation, education and the tech industry to study the use of air mobility, air traffic management, drones and infrastructure innovation.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow has always served as a testbed for ground-breaking green technologies. These concepts go further than ever before, with the potential to transform the role that aviation plays in Britain’s economy.

“The Future Flight Challenge has come at a critical time for the country and our industry. We’re proud to be driving forward with these disruptive initiatives in the year that the UK hosts COP26 and our industry builds back better, as we work to recover from the devastating impacts of this pandemic.”

Minister for Business Paul Scully said: “We’re investing in ambitious projects, like Heathrow’s development of a blueprint for zero-carbon regional air travel, to ensure the aviation industry is championing the latest cutting-edge technology.

“Pioneering research supported by government funding will help the UK build back greener from the pandemic, remain at the forefront of aerospace research and development, and demonstrate global leadership in the next aviation revolution. I look forward to seeing such proposals take flight.”