UK government ministers are pushing ahead with plans to position the country’s aerospace industry as a leader in zero-emission aviation with the creation of a new body to drive the development of new aircraft types and supporting infrastructure.
Unveiled on 20 April, the Zero Emission Flight (ZEF) Delivery Group will be composed of as-yet undisclosed “aviation experts” drawn from industry and government “who will work together to make zero emission flight a reality”. It builds on previous research carried out by the FlyZero project, led by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), which ended earlier this year.
Sitting under the existing Jet Zero Council – a cross-industry advisory forum – it will help to support the development of zero-emission aircraft and supporting airport infrastructure and will also analyse what changes to the law are required “so that sustainable flying can truly become a reality”.
The new group will be chaired by Rachel Gardner-Poole, who is currently the chief operating officer for the Connected Places Catapult and has previous experience at the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the UK Space Agency.
Participants will be drawn from across the aviation industry – including from bodies representing manufacturing, airlines, airports, energy producers and academia – “to ensure the membership provides cross-cutting input to inform policy makers”, says the Department for Transport (DfT).
“This will allow consideration of the full ZEF ecosystem, from manufacture to deployment,” it says.
Representatives from the DfT and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will also participate, alongside agencies such as the Civil Aviation Authority.
The DfT says the ZEF Delivery Group’s role is to “provide advice to government and the [Jet Zero Council] on how best to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission aircraft in commercial air transport for passenger and freight operations”.
This should be based on cross-industry expertise, include advice on the infrastructure required, the development of a new regulatory framework, and the commercialisation of new zero-emission routes, plus “act as a forum for industry, government and regulatory bodies to discuss zero-emission flight technologies and systems”.
Meetings of the group should take place quarterly, the DfT says. It proposes three subgroup workstreams covering zero emission aircraft, ground infrastructure, and regulation, with a fourth, commercialisation, potentially to be added in 2023.
No details on the timing of the first meeting have been released, nor when the ZEF Delivery Group hopes to appoint its members.
Launching the new steering group at the fifth meeting of the Jet Zero Council, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says: “We are determined to bring forward the flight technology of the future, and through our new Zero Emission Flight Delivery Group, we will help create thousands of jobs around the country and take another step toward zero emission flights.”
Gardner-Poole adds: “It is a great privilege to be asked to be the Chair of the ZEF Delivery Group and I am committed to the critical work ahead to make zero-emission aviation a reality.”
Earlier this year, the government announced it was providing £685 million ($895 million) to the ATI over the next three years, in addition to £125 million for Innovate UK’s Future Flight Challenge programme.
The ATI will unveil its technology strategy for the three-year period on 26 April.