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Winners of zero emission flight aviation competition announced

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the winners of the latest competition focused on making zero emission flights a reality.

Winning projects include wireless charging for electric planes, swappable battery packs to keep flight turnover times to a minimum and state-of-the-art fuelling tanks to safely and efficiently refuel flights of the future.

The fifteen successful projects have been awarded a share of over £700,000 to help bring forward innovative research and technology, which can support UK airports in handling new types of electric and hydrogen aircraft.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

As the world reopens from the pandemic, it is essential that we are investing in greener aviation as part of our transport decarbonisation agenda.

Funding these revolutionary projects will help to slash carbon, create jobs and get us closer to our goal of operating zero emission flights.

The funding forms part of the government’s commitment in the Prime Minister’s Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, with a commitment of £3 million funding to research into airport infrastructure for zero emission flights this year.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said:

As an island nation, aviation is essential for our future growth and plans to build back better and greener from the pandemic.

With COP26 around the corner, we’re ramping up our efforts even further by funding the technology that unlocks the flights of the future.

Earlier this year, the UK government set out its ambition to become world-leaders in sustainable aviation fuel production, launching the £15 million Green Fuel, Green Skies competition and publishing a consultation proposing to mandate sustainable aviation fuel use in the UK from 2025.

Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia, said:

We are delighted to have been successful with the zero emission flight infrastructure project and to have the opportunity to show just how these projects are critical to the future of zero emission aviation.

In the future, we believe there will be a hydrogen-electric engine in every aircraft as this is the only viable way to deliver truly zero emission aircraft and to comprehensively tackle the industry’s growing climate impact. When we deliver our first hydrogen-electric powertrains into service in 2024, operators need to be able to fuel their aircraft with low carbon hydrogen, and today’s announcement is a big step towards that.

Nicola Yates OBECEO of Connected Places Catapult, said:

Connected Places Catapult is delighted to welcome these 15 innovative projects onto the TRIG: zero emission flight programme. The progress being made in this sector to enable sustainable air travel is exciting and an important step for the UK’s successful transition to net zero.

This funding is the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at reducing emissions from flying and consolidating the UK’s position as leaders in green aviation.

The winning projects are:

Cranfield University

  •  Low carbon energy demand scenarios for aviation (LOCESA)
  •  Wireless opportunity charging of electric aircraft
  •  Hydrogen Safety in Aviation: an immersive XR training scenario for airport personnel

University of Warwick

  • Creation of Full Airport Energy Model to Simulate/Understand Infrastructure Impacts of Electric and Hydrogen Aircraft and Support Vehicles on Airports – A Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) Case Study with Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA)
  • Evaluation of safety zones and mitigation measures for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure at airports

Protium Green Solutions Limited

  • Developing a digital twin for the fast refuelling process and procedure for gaseous hydrogen aircraft

Hive Composites Limited

  • Next-Generation Thermoplastic Composite Pipe for Hydrogen Distribution in Airports

Stratospheric Platforms Ltd

  • Development of a safety zonal tool for the operation of liquid hydrogen powered aircraft at airfields

EGB Engineering Consultants Ltd

  • Modelling of Electricity and Green Hydrogen Scenarios to meet future Airport Demand (MEHSAD)

ZeroAvia Limited

  • Liquid Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem (LHARE)

University of Strathclyde

  • Solutions Pathway Evaluation Toolkit for Airside Infrastructure to Power Zero Emissions Flight

Ultima Forma Ltd

  • Flexible electroformed twin-walled hydrogen fuel hoses

Ampaire Ltd

  • Modelling demand of electric aviation and airport infrastructure

School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast

  •  UltraCompHy: Ultra-lightweight composite pressure vessels for safe and cost-effective hydrogen storage

CD02 Ltd

  • SafeBatt: Swappable aircraft battery packs for safe ground handling and charging

British Airways increases investment in sustainable aviation

British Airways is to power future flights with sustainable aviation fuel produced from sustainably-sourced ethanol, as part of a new partnership with sustainable jet fuel company LanzaJet.

The partnership will see British Airways invest in LanzaJet’s first commercial-scale Freedom Pines Fuels facility in Georgia, USA and acquire cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel from the plant. It expects the fuel to be available to power a number of its flights by the end of 2022. In addition, the partnership will involve LanzaJet implementing early stage planning and design for a potential commercial facility for British Airways in the UK.

The plant in Georgia is due to begin construction this year. It will convert sustainable ethanol – a chemical compound widely blended with petrol to reduce its carbon intensity – into sustainable aviation fuel using a patented chemical process.

The fuel produced at the plant will deliver a reduction of more than 70% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil jet fuel, equivalent to taking almost 27,000 petrol or diesel cars off the road each year.

The sustainable aviation fuel produced by LanzaJet is made via the LanzaJet™ Alcohol to Jet (AtJ) Process, which can use any source of sustainable ethanol, including, but not limited to, ethanol made from non-edible agricultural residues such as wheat straw and recycled pollution. Commercialisation of AtJ has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech (which launched LanzaJet in June 2020) and the U.S Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The development and use of sustainable aviation fuels is a major focus for British Airways and forms part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a series of short, medium and long-term initiatives. The airline has an existing partnership with sustainable fuels technology company Velocys, with the goal of building a facility to convert household and commercial waste into renewable sustainable jet fuel in the UK. Fuel could be produced by 2025. British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, will be investing US$400 million in sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said:

It is vital for our future that we continue to address climate change and we remain focused on playing our part to reduce the impact we have on the planet. For the last 100 years we have connected Britain with the world and the world with Britain, and to ensure our success for the next 100, we must do this sustainably.

Progressing the development and commercial deployment of sustainable aviation fuel is crucial to decarbonising the aviation industry and this partnership with LanzaJet shows the progress British Airways is making as we continue on our journey to net zero.

Following the successful start-up of the Georgia plant, we hope to deploy the technology and SAF production capacity in the UK. The UK has the experience and resources needed to become a global leader in the deployment of such sustainable aviation fuel production facilities, and we need Government support to drive decarbonisation and accelerate the realisation of this vision.

Jimmy Samartzis, LanzaJet CEO, said:

Our world is at a crossroads on climate change and our industry is at inflection point, prepared to accelerate the energy transition that is needed. We are delighted to welcome British Airways to the LanzaJet family. Low-cost, sustainable fuel options are critical for the future of the aviation sector and the LanzaJet process offers the most flexible feedstock solution at scale, recycling wastes and residues into SAF that allows us to keep fossil jet fuel in the ground.

British Airways has long been a champion of waste to fuels pathways especially with the UK Government. With the right support for waste-based fuels, the UK would be an ideal location for commercial scale LanzaJet plants. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with BA and the UK Government in making this a reality, and to continuing our support of bringing the Prime Minister’s Jet Zero vision to life.

British Airways has a roadmap to meet its net zero 2050 target. In the short-term, the airline is improving its operational efficiency, flying more fuel-efficient aircraft and introducing carbon offset and removal projects. The airline is also looking at technological solutions such as zero emissions hydrogen aircraft and carbon capture technology.

LanzaJet was launched in June 2020 and is a spin-off from leading biotech company LanzaTech. British Airways will be joining LanzaTech, Mitsui and Suncor Energy as investors in LanzaJet. With the addition of British Airways, LanzaJet now plans to develop a further four larger scale plants operating from 2025, producing a pipeline of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel made from sustainable feedstocks, to support and enable the global decarbonisation of the aviation sector. It is hoped that some or all of these plants will be built in the UK subject to improved Government policy support for waste-based sustainable aviation fuels.

British Airways and LanzaTech are also part of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between government and industry to drive forward the UK Government’s net zero-emission ambitions for the aviation and aerospace sector, with a focus on sustainable aviation fuels. 

British Airways and ZeroAvia to explore hydrogen-powered aircraft

British Airways has teamed up with ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, in a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying.

The collaboration, which reflects the importance of sustainability at British Airways, will see ZeroAvia embedded in the heart of the airline. The team will work remotely alongside mentors and experts to explore the transformational possibilities of moving from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen to power the airline’s future fleet.

ZeroAvia recently completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft

Partnership with British Airways is part of parent IAG’s Hangar 51 tech accelerator programme

Announcement comes in the week the BA retired its final 747 aircraft, four years earlier than planned, to make way for more fuel-efficient models

In September 2020, ZeroAvia received global acclaim when it achieved a major technological breakthrough by completing the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-size aircraft, which took off from Cranfield Airport. The Piper M-class six-seat plane completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing.

The partnership forms part of IAG’s industry leading Hangar 51 accelerator programme, which works with start-ups and scale-ups from around the world, providing them with an opportunity to develop and test their products on real world business challenges on a global scale. At the end of the programme, research and learnings from the process will be shared and the ZeroAvia and Hangar 51 teams will consider how the partnership will progress longer term.

Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, said: 

British Airways is committed to a sustainable future and  achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Louise Evans, Director of External Communications & Sustainability said: 

We are very excited to partner with ZeroAvia and get a glimpse of a zero-emissions future using hydrogen powered aircraft. During the partnership, as well as assessing the environmental advantages of the technology, we will also be exploring the operational, commercial and customer experience improvements that can be achieved.

Sergey Kiselev, ZeroAvia’s Head of Europe, said:

We have found that in addition to improving the sustainability of flight, which is vital, hydrogen-electric technology has the potential to lower operating costs and improve the in-flight passenger experience. We are delighted to be working with British Airways, one of the world’s iconic airlines, and the Hangar 51 programme to explore how hydrogen-electric aircraft can power the fleet of the future. That promising future is closer than ever.

In 2021, ZeroAvia expects to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology at longer ranges and using larger aircraft. The company expects to achieve the commercialisation of hydrogen-electric power for aircraft as early as 2023 with flights of up to 500-miles in up to 20-seater aircraft. By 2027, it plans to have powerplants in service capable of powering commercial flights of over 500-miles in aircraft with up to 100 seats and by 2030 more than 1,000-miles in aircraft with 100+ seats.

Both British Airways and ZeroAvia are part of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between government and industry to drive forward the UK Government’s net zero-emission ambitions for the aviation and aerospace sector.

ZeroAvia on Sky News

British Airways says goodbye to the “first of its last” 747 jumbo jets

British Airways has retired its first Boeing 747 since announcing last month that all 31 of its jumbo jets had sadly flown their last commercial services.

The Boeing 747-400, registration G-CIVD, departed from London Heathrow under flight number BA9170E after more than 25 magnificent years of flying.

The aircraft received an emotional farewell from the NATS Air Traffic Control Tower at Heathrow Airport.

British Airways’ fleet of 747s are being retired at an accelerated rate as a result of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector.

Al Bridger, British Airways’ Director of Flight Operations, said: 

All of us at British Airways and so many of our customers will have fond memories and special moments from our travels on the iconic jumbo jet.

As a pilot who was lucky enough to fly the aircraft, the sheer scale of it was unforgettable, you literally looked down on other aircraft. It changed aviation forever when it arrived in the skies and I know I speak for our customers and the global aviation community when I say, despite rightly moving to more sustainable ways of flying, we will still miss the 747 dearly.

The 747 has been an iconic part of British Airways’ fleet for nearly fifty years. At one point the airline operated 57 of the aircraft, with the jumbo jet’s first flight to New York in 1971.

The fuel-hungry aircraft were slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050.

The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 787s which are around 25% more fuel-efficient than the 747.


UK Aviation Commits to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Members of the UK Sustainable Aviation coalition have united behind a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. At an event with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP in Central London, aviation industry executives signed a pledge committing to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

This is based on a thorough review of the opportunities to cut aviation emissions and forms a central pillar of a new “Decarbonisation Road-Map: A Path to Net Zero” published by Sustainable Aviation. This sets out where reductions can come from, including through smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, modernising UK airspace, the use of sustainable aviation fuels, and high-quality market-based policy measures.

With these actions, the UK will be able to grow passenger numbers by 70% – in line with current projections – whilst reducing net emissions from 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year today down to zero.

A “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road-Map” has also been released today alongside the Decarbonisation Road Map, which identifies the specific role that sustainable aviation fuels could play in meeting this commitment. It forecasts that the UK could become a world leader in developing sustainable aviation fuels, which could meet 32% of the nation’s demand for aviation fuel by 2050.

Neil Robinson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:

Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world. We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that’s why UK aviation today commits to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.

The UK is well positioned to become one of the leaders in the green technologies of the future, including sustainable aviation fuels and electric flight, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the process, and we look forward to working in partnership with Ministers to help realise these opportunities.

Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said:

The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the modern world, but the aviation sector’s commitment today is a huge step forward in creating a greener future.

Aviation has a crucial role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and with the help of new technologies, renewable fuels and our continued international co-operation through the UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, we’ll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future.