Accelerating the progress of new technologies, social insight, and advanced aviation solutions to deliver the third revolution in aviation. The Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation has announced the 17 projects sharing £73 million in funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies.

Working with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure these technologies are delivered safely and effectively, these projects show the potential societal benefits of these new technologies.

Projects include:

  • Using planes powered by hydrogen or electricity to open-up greener regional connectivity across the UK.
  • Open Skies Cornwall, working with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to provide residents on the Isles of Scilly with regular, reliable drone deliveries of mail and medical supplies.
  • Supporting the NHS across Scotland with the CAELUS 2 project. The project aims to deliver solutions to real-life problems in care delivery by:
    • reducing the time it takes for a sample to get to a laboratory. Leading to quicker clinical decisions and treatment.
    • allowing cancer patients to receive treatment in their local community. Rather than travelling long distances for chemotherapy.
  • Improving the way we carry out the surveying of critical infrastructure for example powerlines and railway tracks.

But it’s not only the development of new air vehicle systems the challenge is supporting. The challenge is also funding a range of projects investigating air space management and safety. For example, project SafeZone 3 is making drone flights safer by creating a data service that provides real-time information about aerodynamic hazards in urban environments. Project HADO meanwhile will be evaluating a live 24/7 beyond visual line of sight drone service in the high intensity airspace of Heathrow Airport.

By involving local authorities, public sector and regulatory bodies, the challenge is not shying away from the complexities involved in creating a new aviation system for the UK.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “The return of the Farnborough International Airshow after a four-year absence is a clear example of the aerospace and aviation sector’s recovery. Today’s package of support will add to this and help the sector take further steps to seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight. Through funding for the latest in green technology, such as hydrogen aircraft networks and medicine delivery drones, we are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the centre of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy.”

Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director said, “Over the past few years we’ve seen rapid developments in all aspects of the aviation system. From cutting the length of time someone waits for medicine to arrive, to supplying greener ways to travel, these 17 projects will deliver real benefits to people across the UK. But there is still much to do. By involving public bodies and regulators we aim to resolve these issues in an open and transparent way allowing real-world demonstrations by 2024.”