The UK Civil Aviation Authority has launched a challenge for the aviation industry to help leverage the potential of hydrogen as a zero-carbon emission aviation fuel.

Hydrogen as an aviation fuel is at an early stage of development. The sector does not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the risks to aviation safety and the right pathway to certification.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority will address these issues through its Hydrogen Challenge, which will use a Regulatory Sandbox approach to make sure regulation is fit for purpose and reduce challenges associated with the introduction of hydrogen fuel.

The regulator’s challenge will facilitate collaboration with industry and academia to improve understanding of hydrogen-related risks in aviation, identify gaps in policies, and propose new recommendations to develop net-zero policies.

This allows for increased regulatory readiness, reduced risk of failure, and improved collaboration with the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Hydrogen Challenge

Sophie O’Sullivan, Head of Future Safety & Innovation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The project will help facilitate efforts to move towards a net-zero aviation sector by supporting the industry to explore how feasible the introduction of hydrogen is and how we can make sure regulation is fit for purpose.

“Enabling innovation while maintaining safety is a key part of our work and this challenge is a clear example of our collaborative approach to shaping the future of aviation.”

Introducing hydrogen propulsion is key to achieving the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy and is also a key deliverable for the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s sustainability strategy.

The Hydrogen Challenge is funded with nearly £940,000 from the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, which is overseen by the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology.

Regulatory Sandbox

The Fund is a grant-based fund to enable UK regulators and local authorities to help create a UK regulatory environment that encourages business innovation and investment.

To coincide with the launch of the Hydrogen Challenge, the UK Civil Aviation Authority will soon open applications for a new Regulatory Sandbox to assist applicants to run hydrogen trials and maximise regulatory readiness.

Sandbox services are offered prior to the start of the process for regulatory certification, which will help accelerate the introduction of new technologies.

The Hydrogen Challenge runs until 28 February 2025.
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