From flying taxis to solar powered planes: UK invests £273m in blue sky thinking
The UK government is to plough a £273m investment package into the future of the UK’s skies – which will support innovations such as solar-powered aircraft, flying taxis and drones carrying medical treatments.
The fund was announced yesterday at the International Farnborough Air Show in Hampshire by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Approximately £155m of the funding for the UK’s aerospace industry will be spent on green innovation, including hydrogen and battery technology.
Over 30 aerospace tech companies were award funding for this category – including Microlink Devices UK, which secured £6.7 million to explore a high-volume, highly automated manufacturing capability in solar cells that may be used on electric aircraft.
EV automotive firm YASA also secured £11million to support the transfer of knowledge from its high-power, super low weight electric motors and power electronics from its cars into the air mobility (flying taxi) market.
A £12m sum is also being made available through the Regulator’s Pioneer Fund to back initiatives – from flying cars to vaccine-carrying drones – that could unlock industries of the future through regulation.
Other parts of the funding package are being directed towards a Future Flight Challenge initiative, which will receive £105.5m to support projects that are developing air transport systems and new vehicle technology. In its statement the government added that funding in this category will be matched by £175m from industry.
Among the 17 projects in this category includes one from the Air Mobility Ecosystem Consortium that aims to link Bristol airport with London airports with demonstration flights to be flown by Vertical Aerospace’s electric take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL), operated by Virgin Atlantic.
While flying taxis may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, many countries are well on their way to building their own vertiports which support advanced air mobility.
At Farnborough, airplane manufacturer Boeing also exhibited several autonomous platforms including the eVTOL prototype Cora, which is being developed through Wisk Aero, a California-based Advanced Air Mobility company that Boeing has heavily invested in.
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