Will Lord • 20.07.23 •  3 mins

Jet Zero One Year On: the ATI’s role

On the anniversary of the Jet Zero Strategy, Gary Elliott, CEO of the ATI, said: “Much has been achieved since the launch of the Jet Zero Strategy a year ago, from the ICAO agreement to adopt new goals for international aviation to important work in the UK on SAF and non-CO2 emissions. Our sector is facing enormous challenges, and we must keep our focus, maintain a high pace of research & development and pursue multiple advanced technologies and innovations if we are to reach the Net Zero 2050 targets.”

British politics has changed a lot over the past year, but the need to cut aviation emissions while growing our world-class aerospace sector is as vital as ever. In July 2022, the Government published an ambitious Jet Zero strategy setting out how the UK will achieve Net Zero aviation by 2050. It’s an ambitious document that rightly frames the transition to Net Zero as an opportunity to generate new high-value jobs and secure technological advantage for the UK. The ATI’s own strategy Destination Zero supports Jet Zero by setting out to grow the UK’s global market share in aerospace across zero-carbon, ultra-efficient and cross cutting technologies, so we could not agree more.

Today the Department for Transport has published a “One Year On” update. We are proud that the document celebrates our flagship role in delivering the strategy. But what specifically are we doing?

Firstly, we are increasingly investing in zero-carbon emission technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, and hydrogen. They may be nascent today, but we expect them to be a huge driver of future growth. Since our programme restarted, these technologies have grown from 18% of our portfolio to 32%, backing exciting projects such as GKN’s H2GEAR programme to develop the company’s first hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft and Vertical Aerospace’s development of a smart charger for electric aircraft. Our recently published primary funding opportunities will help us target investment at aerospace technologies with the greatest environmental and economic return.

Secondly, we are providing expert, independent advice to government and industry. We continue to be a proactive member of the Jet Zero Council, providing essential expertise on the pathway to Net Zero flight and the progress of emerging technologies. Both the Jet Zero strategy and the Climate Change Committee’s 2023 progress report on Net Zero raise the ever-growing risks from non-CO2 emissions such as contrails and nitrogen oxides. Over the coming months we will be accelerating work to understand the gaps in non-CO2. This will cover both gaps in fundamental research and applied technology.

Finally, we are pioneering the development and deployment of liquid hydrogen for aerospace. Our FlyZero project found that this will be pivotal to decarbonising air travel while attracting major investment to the UK. The ATI’s UK Hydrogen Capability Network is reviewing the UK’s strengths and gaps in test infrastructure, supply and storage, and skills. We are working closely with government to develop an ambitious set of options for its future, which could be a critical national asset for achieving the Jet Zero strategy. Since launching, the HCN team has scoped interest from over 200 different organisations, has captured liquid hydrogen test & demonstration requirements and has begun consolidating the sector’s LH2 demand to establish a clear signal.

The ATI has made great progress, but there is so much more to do ahead of the strategy’s 5-year review in 2027 and beyond. The Climate Change Committee has called for further detail on how the government will support the roll-out of zero-emission aircraft beyond 2030, while our economic peers are investing at pace and scale in aerospace R&D. There is a golden opportunity for the UK to capture a greater share of this growing global market, while meeting our climate goals and collaborating with international partners. We look forward to being an essential partner for government and industry on this journey to 2050.