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Air Transport Vision

The aerospace industry is at a pivotal moment and the UK can achieve competitive advantage if we work to improve the overall air transport system.

Large commercial aircraft will continue to dominate air transport. To mitigate environmental impact, the industry must accelerate improvements in environmental performance of vehicles and flight operations. A new era of aviation is underway with potential to transform mobility, enabled by electrified propulsion, autonomy and air space management technologies. This revolution will unlock the air as a route to deliver a broad range of new sustainable services.  Achieving it will require much closer integration of the air transport system than is the case today. The UK will only remain a major player if it is at the forefront of these technologies and capabilities.

Setting an ambitious sustainability agenda

The UK aviation industry should continue to lead on responding to environmental imperatives.

Around 2 per cent of human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from the aviation industry . Aircraft nitrous oxides (NOx) emissions and condensation trails further exacerbate the impact of aviation on global warming. In addition, aircraft noise, NOx and carbon particulates impact the local environment around airports. The sector has committed to meet ACARE FlightPath 2050 and ATAG climate targets  which go some way to addressing these issues but must pursue these with more urgency and across the whole aviation system.

Large investments have been made in the UK and in Europe to address these environmental targets. However, achieving them remains challenging and further measures will be necessary, including:

Address mobility challenges

Air transport can make a major contribution to addressing mobility challenges and the UK must take the lead to access these opportunities.

Imagine a future where the skies are unlocked. Vertical take-off vehicles slash the time for people and goods to transit congested cities. Drones carry essential supplies for the emergency services and revolutionise access to data through aerial surveys. Conventional take-off aircraft exploit small airfields to provide new connections between regions.

This would transform the productivity of our economy, bringing all our regions and farthest flung communities closer together. It would create new global market opportunities for products and services, with those able to innovate fastest capturing the greatest share.

Realising this future requires an air transport system that does not add to the environmental impact of aviation. It necessitates affordable air vehicles that are electric, autonomous, safe, and able to operate in congested urban environments and beyond. They may have radically different architectures from current aircraft, designed for different missions and exploiting new technological capabilities. Many more air vehicles of different types will operate close to conventional commercial aircraft. New approaches to safety, security and efficient airspace management will be needed. These new markets and fleets will require new infrastructure for communications, ground operations for refuelling/recharging, maintenance and repair. New business models will evolve to exploit the benefits of this system.

It is the mission of the Future Flight Challenge to bring about these new markets. We will continue to work with industry and government to shape this challenge, whilst ensuring maximum synergy with the ATI.

Raise UK competitiveness

The UK needs to raise its performance and collaborative activity at all levels of the supply chain.

The UK’s aerospace industry needs the technologies, skills, tools, techniques and facilities to develop and manufacture world-beating products. High productivity will be essential to success.

We aim to strengthen the UK aerospace supply chain through more innovation in products and manufacturing systems that are differentiated, delivered faster, more affordable, and more sustainable.  We encourage businesses to leverage their capabilities, collaborate and position themselves for future opportunities outside their traditional markets where this makes strategic sense.

The ATI aims to accelerate technologies for improved aircraft performance and for more competitive design and production.  In all areas of this strategy, the ATI works closely with the broader UK R&D ecosystem to ensure the programme exploits and contributes to other major UK initiatives.