The government-backed UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency has announced plans to invest up to £65 million ($90 million) in work on, “integrated aviation systems and underpinning technologies that enable new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles.” The September 6 announcement marked the opening of Phase 3 of UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, for which entries will close at 11 a.m. on November 3.
Organizers explained that the next phase of the competition has been split into two “strands” with the first, “demonstrating aspects of these novel air vehicles and systems” and the second featuring, “cross-cutting technologies that enable the deployment and operation of new air vehicles.” Proposals for the grant awards can cover projects involving the operation of drones, advanced air mobility, or sub-regional electric aircraft, “in a representative environment.”
Announcing the launch of Phase III, organizers stated that the key objectives of the competition are to deliver on the Future Flight Challenge’s vision for 2024 and position the UK, “as a leader in the third revolution of aviation.” It follows Phase 2 of the competition which was held in 2020.
UKRI will hold an online briefing on September 14 to explain the process and rules for the competition. Selected entrants will be invited for initial interviews on December 8, followed by a panel interview on January 10, 2022. The successful applicants will be notified of their financial awards on January 24.
Overall the Future Flight Challenge will distribute £125 million in government grants, with industry to match this with investments totaling £175 million.
Phase 2 winners including GKN Aerospace, which was awarded almost £121,000 towards the £345,000 cost of its Skybus AAM project. Connected Places Catapult, Pascall + Watson and Swanson Aviation Consultancy also received funding for their contributions to this ongoing work.