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The Challenge

Air transport has changed the world since the Second World War. It has enabled mass transportation of people and goods, transforming tourism, trade, business, politics, and relationships between peoples.  The environmental performance of today’s aircraft is vastly improved from earlier times; the newest models of aircraft offer significantly lower noise and emission levels.

To remain sustainable, however, aviation must further radically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, in line with commitments from the UK and other countries to eradicate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The downturn created by the Covid-19 pandemic has sharpened the urgency for this as the case for a sustainable recovery becomes ever stronger.  This is therefore the top priority for the aerospace industry, an industry in which the UK currently excels.  A race is underway to create radically more efficient aircraft.  This is a defining moment, akin to the advent of the jet age. 

Decarbonising aviation is a formidable prospect, but being at the leading edge of the technologies to make it happen will be vital to the UK's future competitiveness in the civil aerospace market.

The new breed of aircraft will call for entirely new industrial capabilities which will lay the foundations for the future of the industry, just as investments made 40-50 years ago set up the aerospace industry we know today.  The supply chain underpinning these capabilities also needs to be created, offering a unique opportunity for the UK to redefine the role it plays in global aerospace.  But the time to act is limited and closing with many other countries pursuing the same goal.