£400m funding for UK aerospace industry to go green

An artist's impression of the UltraFan engine, an innovative engine from Rolls-Royce that targets new standards in efficiency and sustainability
An artist's impression of the UltraFan engine, an innovative engine from Rolls-Royce that targets new standards in efficiency and sustainability

The UK aerospace sector will benefit from £400 million of new funding to aid R&D projects, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced.

The UK aerospace sector will benefit from £400 million of new funding to aid R&D projects, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced.

Government grants totalling £200 million, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme, will be matched by industry to create the total investment of £400 million in new research and technology, enabling ambitious projects to lift off and support the sector’s recovery from Covid-19.

New projects set to receive funding will include developing high performance engines, new wing designs, ultra-lightweight materials, energy-efficient electric components, and other brand new concepts to enhance innovation within the sector.

A project led by Williams Advanced Engineering in Oxford, for example, will develop ultra-lightweight seat structures that will reduce an aircraft’s fuel consumption.

The funding will also secure highly-skilled jobs in the UK’s aerospace sector and will benefit companies of all sizes from Caldicot in Wales to Bedlington in the North of England. Higher education institutions will also be a part of the projects, including the universities of Nottingham and Birmingham.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said: "We have an incredible aerospace industry right here in the UK that defines the way aircraft are manufactured globally. This £400 million ATI investment will help secure our world-leading position in developing new flight technology to make air travel safer and greener into the future."

The successful projects that will receive a share of the grant funding through the ATI programme, and match it with their own investment, include:


  • wings: the UK is the home of Airbus wing design and manufacturing. Airbus-led projects (Broughton, Filton) will drive forward more efficient wing assembly, systems installation, digital design processes and a range of innovative wing concepts including folding wing tips

  • engines: Rolls-Royce-led projects will support the development of the UltraFan engine technology, which will make a step change in the efficiency and environmental performance of aircraft

  • power systems: the AEPEC project led by Safran Electrical & Power UK (Pitstone) will research how new electrical power systems can lead to more efficient energy usage

  • cabin systems: an Oxford-based project led by Williams Advanced Engineering will develop ultra-lightweight seat structures for air travel, reducing the weight of aircraft

The business secretary also announced the FlyZero initiative to kickstart exploration into zero-carbon emission commercial aircraft.

The FlyZero study will receive government funding and bring together around 100 experts to tackle issues involved in designing and building a commercially successful zero-emission aircraft. The study will create a strong basis for further research and development into a wide of technologies necessary for future flight, with the aim of securing future manufacturing in the UK.

This follows the launch of the Jet Zero Council, which brings industry and government together to make net zero emissions possible for future flights. The FlyZero study will feed into the work of the Council in defining and delivering this ambition.

BEIS www.gov.uk/beis

Company

Airbus [**]

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