GKN accelerates sustainable aerospace tech in Future Flight Challenge


In GKN’s future? A Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis of a vehicle concept. Image: GKN Aerospace

Three ground-breaking CO2-reducing technology developments have been launched under the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Future Flight Challenge, working with GKN Aerospace at its new £32m Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

The three developments are:

1 Skybus: Large electric Vertical Take-Off & Landing (eVTOL) vehicles capable of carrying between 30-50 passengers each, taking the “Park and Ride” concept into the air for mass transit over extremely congested routes.

This will not only offer direct benefits in reduced travel time at affordable fares but also reduce the congestion on current ground transport vehicles.

Skybus is led by GKN Aerospace with the following partners: Swanson Aviation Consultancy, Pascall+Watson and Connected Places Catapult.

2 Safe Flight: As unmanned and autonomous systems evolve, uncertainty remains around how to integrate autonomous systems in shared airspace in a safe manner.

This proposal addresses technological challenges, in terms of the integration of a range of cutting-edge technologies in real-world use case demonstrations, but importantly it also looks at the underpinning business need of a clear route to certifiable aircraft systems and approved operations.

Safe Flight is led by GKN Aerospace with the following partners: University of Bath, 3UG Autonomous Systems and Callen-Lenz.

3 NAPKIN: A UK-wide domestic sustainable aviation network promoting zero carbon emissions, connectivity where surface infrastructure is lacking as well as UK business growth and competitiveness.

NAPKIN is led by Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Highlands & Islands Airports, Deloitte, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, London City Airport, University of Southampton, University College London and Cranfield University.

UK govt Minister for Business, Paul Scully, said, “We’re investing in ambitious projects to make flying more sustainable and ensure passengers have greater choice about how they travel.

“Pioneering research supported by government funding will help the UK build back greener from the pandemic, remain at the forefront of aerospace research and development, and provide global leadership in the next aviation revolution.”

Max Brown, VP Technology GKN Aerospace, added, “We are committed to a more sustainable future for aviation and our technologies will keep us at the forefront of this challenge.

“No one company can achieve this alone and these Future Flight Challenge programmes highlight the importance of collaboration in achieving this aim. It is a great example of public-private collaboration as well as the importance of Government in supporting the aerospace industry, through its industrial strategy.”

GKN Aerospace