UK publishes future flight vision and roadmap featuring drones, eVTOL and electrically powered aircraft

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s research and innovation agency, has set out its vision for the future of air travel in Britain.

Compiled by leading experts from industry, academia and government, the future flight vision and roadmap sets out how zero emission air travel within and between British cities could be commonplace by 2030.

The vision and roadmap sets out future flight:

  • market opportunities: global trends and drivers, threats and opportunities
  • consumer vision 2030: how consumers will benefit
  • industry vision 2030: how the future aviation environment will operate
  • example use cases supporting the 2030 vision
  • roadmap (now to 2030).

Lower congestion, lower emissions

One of the key elements of the roadmap is the use of hydrogen or electrically powered aircraft to provide short journeys for up to 10 people. These vertical-takeoff air taxis would eliminate carbon emissions, ease congestion in British cities and reduce journey times for travelers.

The same is true of the increased use of drones by emergency services and for delivering goods. These will provide rapid and convenient access to everyday goods and services, while also supporting emergency services in undertaking complex inspections and operations.

Also in the roadmap are sustainably powered small aircraft to provide short regional flights, providing transportation between towns and cities and serving more remote communities. These would then link in with other transport modes within a city, allowing for a seamless, end to end travel experience.

The publication of the roadmap comes as aviation company Ampaire launches a week of hybrid electric light aircraft flight trials. The company, who are part of the UKRI-funded Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project, recently undertook a demonstration flight where one of their hybrid electric EEL aircrafts completed a 30-minute journey from Kirkwall in the Orkney Isles to Wick airport in the North of Scotland.

Over in Coventry as part of its 2021 City of Culture programme the Air-One project, led by Urban-Air Port and supported by Coventry City Council is working on setting up the world’s smallest airport. Specifically designed to support electric vertical take off and landing aircraft this pop-up airport can be deployed in days, in an area 60% smaller than a standard helipad and with minimal impact on the environment.

The UK’s Future Flight Challenge is a GPB300 million programme designed to secure the UK’s position at the front of the revolution. The Challenge aims to transform how we connect people, deliver goods and provide services by speeding up the acceptance of these innovative ways and bringing them into use safely and practically. By combining control and regulation with infrastructure and aircraft systems to create new operating models the Challenge is creating the aviation system of the future.

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