The UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) will lead a one-year project to study design challenges and potential for a zero-emission commercial aircraft, a part of the Jet Zero Council launched by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July to tackle climate change and establish national leadership on carbon neutral long-haul air travel.
Executives from ATI, speaking during a webinar about the project, described it as an effort to holistically explore the potential to realize a zero-carbon emission commercial aircraft, with 80 seats or more, by the end of the decade, with potential for a follow-on phase to include a major demonstrator project.
“The prime minister spoke about his ambition to achieve some bold carbon reduction … he’s completely bought into it, and they see FlyZero as forming a key component of that mission,” said Gary Elliot, CEO of ATI. “This is a transformative project that has the potential to have a follow-on moonshot phase if we get it right.”
Working with partners across the UK’s aerospace sector, ATI intends to bring up to 110 people into its organization as “secondees,” where they will work for the FlyZero project full-time with salaries and expenses paid by ATI. Most will be engineers, but smaller teams will also be stood up to examine markets, commercial viability, production, lifecycle and supply chain issues.
The project will begin with an initial study phase, collecting and structuring known information on air vehicle concepts, energy sources and conversion, and future air transport markets, according to Simon Weeks, ATI’s chief technology officer.
“Then, we’ll down-select ideas that we think are most appropriate and carry out a concept trade study, starting to pull those views of aircraft and aircraft systems … how they might perform, how sustainable they might be, what operational issues there might be, and whether we have a view at that stage on what the commercial and operational viability might be,” Weeks said during the broadcast.
In the final project phase, one or more designs will be chosen through a further down-select for a preliminary design phase, where Weeks said the intent is to develop concepts into much more fleshed-out models and understand their performance and technological challenges in greater detail.
“We’re looking to see what is