The announcement came from Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng during his keynote speech at the opening of the Farnborough International Airshow today. The funding comes via the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reports has already created 81,000 jobs and added £97billion to the UK economy. The lion’s share of the investment — £155million — will support innovation in such areas as hydrogen and battery technology as well as advanced manufacturing techniques.
Alongside this, a further £105.5million of Government–industry funding will support projects to develop air transport systems and new vehicle technologies as part of the so-called Future Flight Challenge.
Examples of such initiatives include using drones both to survey for motorway hazards, making journeys safer and faster, and to deliver medical treatments by air across scotland.
Mr Kwarteng also announced that up to £12million will be made available to support projects to unlock “industries of the future” — such as vaccine-carrying drones and flying cars — via regulation.
Finally, the Government today published an ambition statement to outline how the UK can work together with industry to use drones to deliver £45billion of economic benefits and 650.000 new jobs by the year 2030.
Mr 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 further this recovery and help the sector seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight.”
Funding is being given, he added: “For the latest in green technology — such as solar and hydrogen powered aircraft — and setting out our vision for the fast-growing market for commercial drones.”
In this way, he continued, the UK is “once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the centre of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy”.
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In total, 31 projects are to be awarded funding under the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, BEIS have reported.
These include the development of performance-enhancing ultra-wide wings, techniques to manufacture solar cells for use on electric aircraft, and the translation of Formula One electric motors and power electronics into the air taxi market.
The Future Flight Project, meanwhile, will fund 17 projects to be delivered in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority.
These include a project to open up regional connectivity using green aircraft, a plan to use drones to facilitate regular and reliable mail and medicine deliveries on the Isles of Scilly, and another to survey motorways and ports from the air using drone tech.
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Transport Minister Robert Coutts said: “The steps we have set out today will ensure our aviation sector remains world-leading and fit for the future.”
The plans, he said, will help “deliver on our ambitious climate change goals and boost high-skilled job opportunities”.
He added: “Integrating drones into our transport system will play a huge part in better connecting communities.”
Roles that could potentially be served by such tech, he added, include “delivering vital NHS treatments in isolated communities to capturing high quality aerial imaging for rescue teams.”