Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £65 million in innovation projects. Projects must demonstrate integrated aviation systems, and either vehicle technologies or enabling technologies, that enable new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles.

The aim of this competition is to fund projects that will deliver the 2024 vision of the Future Flight Challenge and position the UK as a leader in the third revolution of aviation. This competition will build on the success of the 2020 Phase 2 competition and will focus primarily on the demonstration aspects of these novel air vehicles and systems.

This competition is split into 2 strands. The strands are:

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £500,000 and £15 million for strand 1, and between £500,000 and £4 million for strand 2.

For strand 1, your proposal must demonstrate the operation of vehicles or enabling systems in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case.

For strand 2, your proposal must focus on developing the enabling technologies that support the operation of drones, advanced air mobility (AAM) or sub-regional electric aircraft in a representative environment and whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case.

Projects must also support the overall objectives of the Future Flight Challenge and align with key Government policies on Net Zero Transport.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size (academic institutions cannot lead)
  • be or involve at least one UK registered SME
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications. Organisations not leading can collaborate on any number of applications.

The aim of this competition is to fund ambitious projects that will successfully integrate the technical, regulatory and social challenges necessary to prove new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles.

The Future Flight Challenge is based around 3 classes of aircraft:

  1. Drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
  2. Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
  3. Sub-regional zero-carbon aircraft

Scope of strand 1

For strand 1 of the competition your project must include a means of demonstration of one or more of these classes of aircraft and enabling systems, operating in a representative environment.

You should include the participation of end users or operators in your project and engagement with appropriate local authorities would be beneficial.

A clear understanding of the regulatory requirements and proposed route to achieving regulatory approval must be demonstrated.

Your project must focus on demonstrating the operation of aircraft in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case. Use cases should be real-world applications which drive integration of the different aviation system elements for each of the three Future Flight vehicle classes.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • demonstrations of multiple drones, operating as a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) service in a defined geographic area.
  • a multi-modal demonstration of different aircraft types operating in parallel providing an end-to-end solution
  • AAM vehicle operation in a representative environment
  • scheduled sub-regional electric flights over a representative route

You can find further details of use cases that projects are recommended to align with on the Future Flight Challenge web page.

Scope of strand 2

For Strand 2 of the competition your project must focus on the enabling and cross-cutting technologies essential to support the safe and effective operation of these new vehicle types.

You must clearly demonstrate how the enabling technologies you are developing combine to support an overall aviation “system of systems”. Where appropriate, the participation of end users or operators in your project would be advantageous.

You must clearly demonstrate how the enabling technologies you are developing combine to support an overall aviation “system of systems” that supports the different classes of Future Flight aircraft.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following, to demonstrate the operation of vehicles in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case with:

  • a real-world use case application which drives integration of the different aviation system elements for each of the three Future Flight vehicle classes
  • AAM: Inter-town transport or Intracity Transport
  • drone or AAM cargo delivery
  • drone or AAM medical delivery
  • hub and spoke drone delivery service
  • AAM Infrastructure or Vertiport
  • automated ground handling and charging systems
  • operation of sub-regional electric aircraft
  • air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems
  • digital and communications systems

You can find further details of use cases that projects are recommended to align with on the Future Flight Challenge web page.

Briefing (covers both strands)

A competition briefing will be held online at 2pm on Tuesday 14th September: click here to register for a place.

Finding partners, and more help

If you want help to find a project partner, contact KTN’s Future Flight team on futureflight@ktn-uk.org.