The UK Government has announced it will set aside £343m to fund projects aimed at developing innovations in electric aircraft, hybrid-electric propulsion systems and future materials for manufacturing.
Speaking at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced that the investment will help the UK’s aerospace sector enter a new era of cleaner, greener flight.
Of the total money invested, £255m will be destined for 18 research and technology projects, including those planning to develop cleaner and greener hybrid aircraft. This investment will be supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).
Some £68m will go towards small and medium-sized companies in a bid to increase research and development opportunities, while another £20m will be used to drive improvements in long-term productivity across the sector. The projects have been distributed among some of the key players in the industry, including Bombardier and Airbus.
As part of the scheme, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens will partner to work on the E-Fan X project to develop a flying electrical demonstrator that will work as the starting point for future electrical aircraft and help the aerospace sector to manufacture cleaner, quieter aircraft.
Speaking at the airshow, Clark said: “The UK has a rich heritage in civil aviation as the home of the jet engine and the wings factory of the world.
“Technology is driving revolutionary changes in aviation that have not been seen since the 1970s and today’s investment is foundational to the future of commercial aviation and ensuring the UK remains at the cutting-edge of the sector. This revolution in civil aerospace will bring significant benefits to UK industry, passengers and the environment.”
Clark also announced the start of formal negotiations for an Industrial Strategy sector deal, which will increase business investment in the UK. The deal is expected to find new investment opportunities for electrification and high-value design, as well as the continued rise of productivity levels in the supply chain.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “The development of quicker, quieter and cleaner aircraft will transform the UK’s transport market and open up new and more sustainable ways for passengers to travel between our cities and regions and across the globe.
“Developing innovation, technology and skills is a core part of the government’s Aviation Strategy and this funding will help us to ensure that the UK aviation sector continues to be a world leader in this area.”