DATE: 15 June, 2022


DARTeC at Cranfield University (invite only) and online

START TIME: 10:00 am END TIME: 2:30 pm

Join us on 15th June for the Airspace of the Future Showcase event.

The Airspace of the Future consortium led by Thales are hosting their final showcase event at the DARTeC facility at Cranfield University.

The project partners are: Thales, Cranfield University, Cranfield Airport Operations, Inmarsat, Altitude Angel, Ocado Group, Blue Bear, Satellite Applications Catapult, and Connected Places Catapult.

Over the past 21 months this multi-skilled, cross-sector consortium has been focussing on exploring the challenges that the future use of drones at scale will face and how we solve them. The project has been developing a coherent, UK-wide solution that will meet regulatory and safety requirements which will enable equitable access to the airspace to all drone operators against a managed and controlled framework.

During the hybrid event you will hear from the project partners who will be discussing what the airspace may look like in the future with regards to creating a safe, sustainable and accessible airspace.

  • Funding supports further steps towards decarbonising aviation
  • New hydrogen and electric fuelling equipment will reduce emissions and advance research
  • Expanded sensor network to create airport ‘digital twin’


Cranfield University has been awarded £3.1 million to advance its sustainable aviation research, both into developing low-carbon aircraft, and decarbonising airport logistics. The funding from Research England will also have an immediate impact on reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from flying and airside operations at Cranfield University, amounting to 305 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year.

The Net Zero Research Airport project won the funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) Net Zero pilot funding scheme, an £18.9 million funding boost to support universities in reducing carbon emissions and making research processes more environmentally sustainable.

It will unlock further potential from two existing Cranfield UKRPIF projects – the Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) and the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) – by providing new facilities and equipment to support research focused on sustainable aviation.

Building the pathway to sustainable aviation 

Cranfield University, which has committed to its own target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030, has a long-standing focus on aviation and the environment.

“This funding is a welcome boost to our innovation and research at Cranfield University,” said Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University. “It will have an immediate impact on our own operations and emissions. And in the longer term it will help us to make a significant contribution to the government’s ambition of net zero aviation by 2050 and global net zero targets, as new technologies and developments are adopted by the aviation industry.

“There is a pressing need for a clear pathway to a future world of sustainable aviation, and Cranfield University can help to build that.”

Immediate impact on reducing emissions 

The Net Zero Research Airport project will invest in new equipment for the University, which will have an immediate impact on reducing emissions. This includes:

  • a Hydrogen electrolyser, powered by solar panels, to supply fuel-cell aircraft research, ground operations vehicles and research into hydrogen internal combustion engines and gas turbine combustors
  • a mobile hydrogen compression and vehicle refueling system, supporting research projects across the Cranfield campus
  • two electric vehicle charging stations to charge airport ground operations vehicles
  • electric and fuel-cell ground operations vehicles to support the National Flying Laboratory and aircraft trials, including an aircraft tug, ground power unit and rapid response fire truck – moving the University away from using diesel-powered vehicles
  • a sustainable aviation fuel bowser to maximise use of this fuel at Cranfield’s airport
  • air quality and metrological instrumentation to extend Cranfield’s Living Lab research system, monitoring aviation and transport emissions information for AIRC and DARTeC online, and integrating this with the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities.

Additional infrastructure crucial to moving forward 

Cranfield University already plays a significant role in accelerating sustainable aviation research and translating this to regulated aviation. As the only university in Europe with its own airport, alongside leading aerospace research facilities and world-renowned experts, Cranfield is harnessing digital and physical technologies to achieve rapid innovation.

Professor Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems, leads the DARTeC project and said: “Our research has been developing at pace and it’s now crucial that we have this additional infrastructure to keep moving forward.

“The whole aviation ecosystem – from ground operations to aircraft, from airports to autonomy – is on the cusp of huge and positive disruption; and we have a lead role, working alongside industry partners and new start-up businesses, to bring the potential for net zero to fruition.”

Next-generation sensors will create ‘digital twin’ airport 

Part of the funding will go towards developing next-generation emissions sensing technologies through the Living Lab research project at Cranfield.

The expanded sensor network will develop and evaluate ground operations and aircraft handling to minimise noxious as well as greenhouse gas emissions, using carbon capture, sequestration, utilisation and storage technologies already under active development.

Live sensor data from the airfield will also feed into an airport ‘digital twin’. This is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect the physical airport, and will enable researchers to deliver new virtual modelling of emissions for different aircraft operations and fuel types.

Supporting the research sector to reduce environmental impacts 

Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said: “The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund has a strong track record in funding state-of-art facilities that support world-leading research and strengthen partnerships between universities and other organisations active in research.

“By piloting these innovative approaches to tackling net zero in infrastructure, we hope that this scheme will help us to learn more about what works so that we and the HE sector can factor this into future activity and build upon the already successful UKRPIF model.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC and sponsor for Environmental Sustainability and Net Zero in UKRI, said: “Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy commits UKRI to supporting the research sector to reduce its negative environmental impacts.

“This funding will help these leading national centres and facilities develop innovative solutions to reducing energy demand and increasing the use of renewable power in some unique research environments.

“UKRI is proud of its role in helping reduce carbon emissions from delivering cutting-edge research outputs in support of institutional and national net zero targets.”

Driving research into aviation and the environment 

Cranfield became a member of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) in 2020 and has hosted its FAAM Airborne Laboratory since 2007.

In September 2020, Cranfield supported ZeroAvia in achieving the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and the university are developing a retrofittable green propulsion system using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Cranfield University has been an enabling partner in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authentication System (UASAS) project, which is one of over 40 projects in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge programme (FFC). UASAS is led by ANGOKA, along with partners Cranfield University and Connected Places Catapult. This project aims to strengthen the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations across use cases, including for medical emergencies and supply delivery. By ensuring the security and integrity of UAS communications that is crucial to their safe flight, as well as the safety of other airspace users. Find out more here:…

Many UK-ARC universities have been closely engaged with the FFC, including a number of collaborative projects leveraging the complementary skills of researchers across the consortium.

YouTube link


A project managed by Cranfield University to advance electric aviation has achieved a significant milestone, with what is thought to be the first ever flight by a British designed and built, all-electric conventional aeroplane.

The eKub is a British designed and built all-electric microlight aeroplane and has been developed by a consortium of Cranfield University, TLAC, Flylight Airsports and CDO².



Read more 


The UK-ARC community welcomes the excellent achievements of the ATI FlyZero project. Mobilising a large industry and academic team to rapidly examine many aspects of zero-carbon aviation and how to achieve that within a decade was a huge undertaking.

UK-ARC universities undertook or contributed to sixteen reports that form part of the body of research evidence in the FlyZero feasibility study. The energy, enthusiasm and impetus generated through FlyZero is galvanising the community to define the right path to deliver zero-carbon aviation and it is bringing different stakeholders and disciplines together. Importantly, it is also supporting with the UK government’s Jet Zero Council initiative. This project and the ‘grand challenge’ represented by FlyZero has changed the way the research community works and the results and roadmaps going forward really make a difference. It has shown that academia not only has broad capability essential to realising zero-carbon aviation but also that it can deliver results quickly. Further details of the FlyZero project and access to the open reports can be found here. Great job, ATI!

The ATI received confirmation on 29th March that they have been allocated Government funding totalling £685m over the next three years which allows resumption of their programme. This is excellent news for the academic community as well as for industry. UK-ARC universities are frequent collaborators in industry projects proposed to the ATI so this announcement is good for drawing though lower TRL research for the benefit of the sector.

The latest budget, which covers the period 2022 to 2025, equates to a 50% uplift on the previous three years. Industry Minister Lee Rowley, said that the funding rise is a “sign of our increasing ambition” particularly in relation to zero-emission aviation, and would give “large companies and SME’s the confidence to invest in technologies that will bring civil aviation into the next generation.

The funding programme opened to new applicants with an expression of interest stage on Monday the 4th April and will close on Wednesday 27th April            

Full stage opening will be 30th May and close 6th July

Funding eligibility will remain the same as when the ATI programme paused. The Programme works to support collaborative R&D with multiple partners in universities, Catapults, and industry, including Primes and SMEs.

If you have previously submitted prior to the programme suspension, you will need to submit a new EOI via Innovate UK’s IFS portal. Expression of Interest form

A new report published by Cranfield University and Inmarsat highlights the critical role that digital connectivity will play in accelerating aviation’s long-term recovery.

The report highlights a number of transformative changes ahead for the aviation industry and examines how airlines can take advantage of the enormous opportunities created as a result.

To read further access the report HERE


The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Southampton invite applications from candidates with research and teaching interests/experience in Mechanics of Structures and Materials including design, fabrication and characterization of novel materials and innovative structures relevant to aerospace and energy applications.


For more information

Swansea University is seeking to appoint a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer to join the Department of Aerospace Engineering to help develop expertise and capabilities in the important area of hydrogen-based propulsion technology for aviation.   Applicants should have demonstrable experience in either academia or industry, of working/researching/teaching in the area of hydrogen fuel system technology for aircraft propulsion.   This could be based on direct hydrogen combustion or hydrogen fuel cell technology.  The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate how their expertise complements or supplements existing research at Swansea in the areas of hydrogen combustion modelling, ‘green hydrogen’ generation and materials research for cryogenic liquid hydrogen storage systems.  For further queries please contact the Head of Aerospace Engineering at Swansea University, Dr Ben Evans


Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering (

  • Research into drone noise could inform future regulation
  • Trials found noise levels to be similar to an office or restaurant
  • Further trials planned to gather more data from different drone types and flight paths

Measurement trials with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at Cranfield University are paving the way for a better understanding of the noise impact of drones.

UAV noise is a concern often raised for flights over urban areas, encompassing not only noise volume but also frequency of sound from flights.

Read more here