Up to 200 companies are expected to participate in the first phase of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge, which gets underway in early 2020. The program, which is backed by around $160 million in UK government funding, is intended to stimulate collaborative work to develop and support electric and autonomous aircraft.
Submissions to participate in the first phase closed on November 13 and companies will be invited to attend workshops on February 4 and 5, 2020. During these meetings, consortia will be formed from companies involved in complementary areas of work and the scope of the challenge will be refined for the second phase beginning in April.
Companies applying to join the program are involved in fields including electrification of aircraft, air traffic management, detect and avoid systems, communications, and ground infrastructure. Industry participants are expected to contribute around $225 million.
The Future Flight Challenge, which is due to run through March 2024, is addressing the following four areas of activity in support of getting new aircraft into service: control and regulation, including air traffic management; new operating models; ground infrastructure; and integrating new aircraft with a new aviation system. The process is being overseen by UKRI interim challenge director Gary Cutts.