Achieving Green Recovery: Aerospace

Where we are

By this point we’re all well aware of the catastrophic effect the COVID-19 crisis has had on aviation and aerospace. The UK Government’s decision to remove self-isolation requirements for many countries ahead of the summer holiday season did facilitate a gentle return to travel. However, a recent spike in cases has led to self-isolation requirements being reinstated for travellers returning from Spain – a key destination for UK holidaymakers. This has reminded us of the fragile position we’re still in, and the long road ahead of us before we see a full recovery.

ADS has worked with members of all sizes to understand the challenges they are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. This has allowed us to develop our policy positions to highlight what support is required from Government to protect jobs, maintain crucial R&D investment and lay the foundations for a long-term recovery.

The key to a green recovery

At a global level, the crisis will lead to intensified focus on sustainability within aviation and aerospace. That has been recognised by leading aerospace nations such as France, Germany and the US who have all announced a combination of tailored support and increased funding for R&D.

It has also been recognised by the UK Government. The Prime Minister has set out the ambition for the UK to produce the world’s first zero emission long-haul passenger aircraft. The Jet-Zero Council will bring together industry leaders and Cabinet Ministers to drive the pace of this work and take UK ambitions to the next level.

The UK aerospace industry is excited to join with the Prime Minister in delivering the UK’s ‘jet-zero’ ambition and we are committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

At FIA Connect the Business Secretary highlighted key projects, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme, that will help deliver environmental improvements in aerospace. He also drew attention to the FlyZero initiative, which will bring together 100 experts to kickstart work into zero-emission aircraft technology.

What next?

These statements of intent are promising and are focussing minds. It is however important to recognise what is required in order to achieve these ambitions.

Targeted co-investment and a shared roadmap for investment between Government and industry will deliver significant near-term emission reductions and turbocharge disruptive technology development:

  • Increasing the ATI’s current budget by £30m per year will guarantee and safeguard core technologies.
  • Commercialising Sustainable Aviation Fuels will create a new world-leading industry in the UK. Government investment of £100m per year, matched by industry will significantly decarbonise flight over the next five years and create up to 14 first‐of‐a kind plants by 2035.
  • Expanding the ATI’s future budget by £150m per year will accelerate hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered flight.
  • ‘Front-loading’ Government funding for technology will kick-start industry investment, with committed private funding seeing projects through to completion.

This approach will enable UK aerospace to build back better, greener and faster. It will create highly skilled, high-value jobs, secure the future of thousands of engineers and build a path to recovery for the aerospace industry.