UK announces £343m lift-off for electric and hybrid planes

Around £68m of funding will support small and medium-sized businesses for research and development opportunities

The UK Government has announced £343 million of funding to ensure the UK is at the forefront of a new era of “cleaner and greener” flights.

Around £255 million, supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will be invested in 18 new research and technology projects, including the development of hybrid and electric aircrafts.

A major beneficiary of the latest funding is the E-Fan X project, which brings together Airbus, Rolls-Royce – which is receiving further support for four projects on engine technology – and Siemens to develop a flying electrical demonstrator which will form the foundation for future electrical aircraft.

Others granted funding include three research projects led by Bombardier exploring more efficient manufacturing processes, new technology for engine covers and the application of composite material to large aerospace structures.

GKN also aims to develop new aerostructure components for aircraft upgrade opportunities, Airbus aims to reduce cash operating costs by 2% through increased efficiency and reduced turn-around times and the National Composite Centre Operation is developing new efficient ways of producing large composite structures.

The University of Oxford, the University of Sheffield and the Welding Institute have also been granted funding for research projects.

Around £68 million will support small and medium-sized businesses for research and development opportunities, with £20 million to drive improvements in long term productivity across the sector.

An open competition supported by UKRI will back SMEs to carry out new research on “high risk, high reward solutions” that will help companies growth their capability for the long term.

Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “The development of quicker, quieter and cleaner aircraft will transform the UK’s transport market and open up new and more sustainable ways for passengers to travel between our cities and regions and across the globe.

“Developing innovation, technology and skills is a core part of the government’s Aviation Strategy and this funding will help us to ensure that the UK aviation sector continues to be a world leader in this area.”

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark also announced the start of formal negotiations of an Industrial Strategy sector deal that will further increase business investment in the UK, with discussions expected to conclude before the end of the year.

The deal will explore investment opportunities around electrification and high-value design, raise productivity levels in the supply chain and boost skill levels in the sector.

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