A three-strand technology programme exploring sustainable aviation is to be led by GKN Aerospace in partnership with 15 collaborators.
Backed by UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), the programme is part of the £125m Future Flight Challenge that will be rolled out over the next four years. This initial phase – supported by £4.5m – is aiming to advance electrification, autonomous flight and sustainable aviation networks under its three different branches, two of which will be headed by GKN Aerospace.
Skybus is targeting the development of a large eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off & Landing) vehicle capable of transporting 30-50 passengers. According to GKN Aerospace, the project will seek to transform the ‘park & ride’ concept, taking mass transit to the skies over heavily congested routes and providing a brand new mode of transport while also relieving pressure on terrestrial traffic. Partners on this strand include Swanson Aviation Consultancy, Pascall+Watson and the Connected Places Catapult.
Safe Flight will explore how to safely integrate unmanned and autonomous aircraft into existing air space. Featuring the Bath University, 3UG Autonomous Systems, and Callen-Lenz, the project is aiming to integrate a range of cutting-edge technologies in real-world use case demonstrations, while also examining the underpinning business needs of a clear route to certifiable aircraft systems.
The final strand, NAPKIN, is being led by Heathrow Airport in partnership with GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Highlands & Islands Airports, Deloitte, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, London City Airport, Southampton University, University College London and Cranfield University. This wide-ranging project is primarily concerned with the potential of electric aircraft for UK regional flights, but will explore the issue holistically, looking not only at the technological challenges for flight, but also the implications for ground infrastructure, airspace, airlines passengers and communities.
“We are committed to a more sustainable future for aviation and our technologies will keep us at the forefront of this challenge,” said Max Brown, VP Technology at GKN Aerospace.
“No one company can achieve this alone and these Future Flight Challenge programmes highlight the importance of collaboration in achieving this aim. It is a great example of public-private collaboration as well as the importance of government in supporting the aerospace industry, through its industrial strategy. We look forward to working together to deliver the next generation of sustainable air travel.”