Government pledges electric plane lift off with £343m investment into UK aerospace

A new era for a cleaner and greener UK aviation industry is being promised today as minsters announced a £343m government and industry investment aimed at propelling the UK to the forefront of designing electric and hybrid planes.

In a speech at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, it was revealed that £255m – supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) - will go towards 18 new research and technology projects, including the development of cleaner and greener hybrid aircrafts.

To support small and medium-sized companies, £68m of the funding will be made available to increase research and development opportunities, with £20m to drive improvements in long-term productivity across the sector.

The funding is proposed to show how millions of aviation jobs will be secured and strengthen Britain’s position as a leading aerospace nation post-Brexit. It’s a sign of strength to aviation leaders in the UK which the government hopes will show its determination to build on Britain’s global reputation and make the most of future opportunities.

Commenting on the funding, business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: "The UK has a rich heritage in civil aviation as the home of the jet engine and the wings factory of the world.  Technology is driving revolutionary changes in aviation that have not been seen since the 1970s and today's investment is foundational to the future of commercial aviation and ensuring the UK remains at the cutting-edge of the sector. This revolution in civil aerospace will bring significant benefits to UK industry, passengers and the environment.

The business and energy secretary also announced the start of formal negotiations for 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.    

The latest wave of projects to win the competitive funding underlines the significant importance of the £3.9bn joint research and development funding commitment in the sector as part of the Industrial Strategy.    

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg added: “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.”

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