The UK government and industry have announced a £84.6 million investment in a trio of ambitious green technology aerospace projects based in Bedford, Bristol, and Cranfield which could result in the creation of nearly 5,000 jobs.

The grants were announced by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and were awarded to groundbreaking aerospace projects which will help the industry build back greener. The funding could enable urban air mobility vehicles including air taxis which are set to revolutionise the aviation industry, with potential for zero-emissions air travel by 2023. The technology also has the potential to create up to 4,750 jobs across the UK.

The multi-million-pound grant for the three pioneering research and development projects were announced yesterday (Thursday 28 January) by Business Minister Paul Scully. The winning projects represent a total investment of £84.6 million – half from the government, delivered through the ATI Programme, and matched by industry.

Jobs would be spread across the country

Each project will use British innovation and expertise in green technology to power zero-emissions flights, using alternative energy sources of hydrogen or electricity to reduce the industry’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels. A government statement said the projects could secure up to 4,750 design, engineering and manufacturing jobs, adding they would be spread “From Bristol to Coventry and Cranfield to Orkney.”

It added that the new regional air mobility aircraft could create the new air taxi services which could reduce congestion on road networks, and allow passengers to travel more quickly and locally.

“Broadening the horizons of future air travel”

Minister for Business, Paul Scully, said: “These trailblazing projects are broadening the horizons of future air travel, towards a greener future where we may be able to hail taxis from the sky rather than on our streets.”

“This multi-million-pound boost will help to secure up to 4,750 jobs in these projects spanning the UK, and could pave the way to technological advances that will allow the industry to build back better and greener following the COVID-19 pandemic – and help tackle climate change.”

The following three projects are receiving funding:

  • GKN Aerospace-led project H2GEAR will receive a £27.2 million government grant to develop an innovative liquid hydrogen propulsion system (a component that propels the aircraft forward) for regional air travel, which could be scaled up for larger aircraft and longer journeys
  • ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer II will receive a £12.3 million government grant to scale up its zero-emissions engines for demonstration on a 19-seater aircraft, showcasing its significant technological advances, meaning that customers can expect to fly on zero-emissions aircraft as early as the end of 2023
  • InCEPTion, led by Blue Bear Systems Research, is receiving a £2.8 million government grant to develop a fully-electrified zero-emissions propulsion system for aircraft, that is powerful, quiet and efficient and could be used for smaller aircraft travelling short distances – even within the same city

The government is committed to helping advance the UK’s future transport system through its extensive R&D Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024/2025. This investment comes ahead of our consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, with jet zero and low carbon aviation as a key pillar to building back greener.

The announcement of the grant winners is the latest in government support for the aerospace sector and forms part of a wider £3.9 billion government-industry investment in aerospace research and development projects from 2013 to 2026 through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and delivered through the ATI Programme.

During the pandemic, aerospace companies have been able to benefit from the government’s extensive business support measures including furlough, CBILs, and Bounce Back loans. The aerospace sector and its aviation customers are being supported with almost £11 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility and grants for research and development.

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