UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) has revealed five key social research priorities to further the UK’s advanced aviation agenda in its forward strategy paper, Future Flight Social Science Considerations and Research.

The paper assesses public and social readiness to the implications of regulatory frameworks and is a crucial first step to encourage wider engagement across academia, industry, and the public sector

Authored by UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, the document represents a key milestone on the UK’s future flight 2030 roadmap that will position the UK as a global leader in advanced aviation solutions. Future Flight Social Science Considerations and Research is available for download here.

The Future Flight Challenge, part of UK Research & Innovation’s (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, has published Future Flight Social Science Considerations and Research, a new forward strategy paper identifying five key social research priorities needed to further the advancement of the UK’s aviation sector.

  • The five areas identified by the report are:
  • Understanding the innovation ecosystem
    Public and social readiness
    Impacts on rural and urban environments
    Communities and social impacts
    Trustworthiness, regulatory frameworks and implications

“Success of transformative innovations hinges on societal readiness and public perception”

Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker, Director at Research Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society (ISTEMMiCS) at the University of Birmingham said: “The UK already has world-leading capabilities in aerospace and innovation which will enable us to build, use and export new forms of aviation with the potential to provide a host of social benefits, such as increasing mobility and improving connectivity; however, having the capacity to build these technologies is only part of the journey.”

The success of these transformative innovations in how we transport people and goods or provide services, hinges entirely on societal readiness and the public perceptions of future flight technologies. The Future Flight Social Science Considerations and Research paper is a call to action to both industry and academia to collaborate to better understand these perceptions and create an inclusive aviation system that works for everybody.”

The report represents the latest milestone in UKRI’s Future Flight Vision & Roadmap, a 2021 report showcasing how the future aviation system will operate by 2030 and how the industry can support the UK achieve this vision.

Future Flight Challenge supports “third aviation revolution”

Part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), the Future Flight Challenge is a £300 million programme, jointly funded by government and industry to position the UK as a world leader in the third aviation revolution. The four-year programme has invested in more than 40 projects to-date which are set to create the aviation system of the future. The programme is also working towards demonstrating the safe integration and operation of drones, advanced air mobility and regional aircraft with advancements in electrification and autonomy by 2024.

The UK has strengths and capabilities in the production of key enabling technologies such as AI, batteries, robotics and digitalisation, the successful adoption of future flight technologies will hinge on public perceptions of trustworthiness and their potential positive social benefits. Future Flight Social Science Considerations and Research is a call to action to stakeholders from academia, industry, and the public sector to collaborate and enable a more comprehensive understanding of broader social needs and values to help foster innovation.

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