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5 minute read - 11th April 2024

ATI aerospace projects reach £3.6bn funding milestone

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) is celebrating a multi-billion pound funding milestone for cutting-edge green technology in the UK aerospace sector. Alan Mak, industry minister, joined UK aerospace industry leaders at an event today to mark the 10-year anniversary of the ATI, a joint government-industry funded organisation that drives world-class research in sustainable aviation.

Companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce and a range of other leaders celebrated the success of the ATI in making the UK a world leader in cleaner and greener air travel, with £3.6bn of government and industry funding being allocated to more than 400 different aerospace R&D projects across the breadth of the UK over the past decade. These projects have pioneered new technologies which will help develop a new generation of zero-emission aircraft, supporting thousands of high-skilled jobs across the country.

The Aerospace Technology Institute is marking a decade-long anniversary that has delivered £3.6bn in funding to more than 400 cutting-edge aerospace R&D projects across the UK / Picture: Getty/iStock

Alan Mak, industry minister, said: “Our world-class aerospace sector is a British success story, with government and industry coming together to provide billions of pounds in unprecedented support to help us lead the way on cleaner, greener air travel. Over the last decade, the ATI has been crucial to this, helping our aerospace industry soar to new heights and supporting thousands of jobs while continuing to grow our economy.”

Over a decade ago, the government joined together with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership to create the ATI, responding to calls for the UK to develop its own R&D programme for the aerospace sector. This has secured long-term planning and funding sources through the ATI Programme, with £3.6bn of joint government-industry funding for transformative technology projects in air transport so far. Successes include:

over 400 cutting-edge R&D projects funded since the start of the ATI Programme
the Rolls-Royce UltraFan demonstrator aero engine technology ground demonstrator – the largest in the world, with greater fuel efficiency, lower emissions and greater sustainability
the Airbus-led Wing of Tomorrow programme – the next generation of carbon composite aircraft wings
Rolls-Royce seized the world-speed record for electric aircraft with its battery-powered Spirit of Innovation aircraft
SMEs including ZeroAvia and Cranfield Aerospace developing new generation zero emission aircraft and propulsion systems
Investment in research facilities from the Osney lab in Oxford to the new Whittle Lab in Cambridge and the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology in Loughborough

The government said aerospace funding remains a key priority, with £200m of joint government and industry funding dedicated to R&D projects announced in the recent Spring Budget, supporting the development of energy efficient and zero-carbon aircraft technology. This came after the government announced £975m in funding over five years from 2025 for the ATI programme in the 2023 Autumn Statement.

ATI funding includes projects such as the Rolls-Royce UltraFan demonstrator and the Airbus-led Wing of Tomorrow programme / Picture: Getty/iStock

Gary Elliott, CEO of ATI, said: “Since the ATI was created 10 years ago, we have helped to transform the UK aerospace sector through the development of advanced and innovative technologies – setting the sector on the path to Net Zero 2050 with our Destination Zero strategy. The ATI Programme has helped secure jobs, support growth, return economic value to the UK and position the UK to capture market share in next-generation sustainable aircraft. All of this has been made possible through collaboration – between the ATI, the many organisations across the UK who have delivered over 400 projects and, of course, our partners in the Department for Business and Trade and Innovate UK. Looking ahead to the next 10 years, I am confident that the ATI will play a critical role in making the UK the world’s most vibrant ecosystem for net zero aerospace technology.”

Airbus UK chairman, John Harrison, said: “For the last decade, the ATI has been instrumental in supporting Airbus’ technology developments that are improving our commercial aircraft and helicopters flying today and those for tomorrow. Technologies such as how we design and build aircraft wings and accelerate the development of hydrogen powered aircraft. We’re looking forward to another decade of pushing boundaries, boosting innovation and upskilling people right here in the UK to keep our industry ahead of the beat.”

Rolls-Royce group director of engineering, technology and safety, Simon Burr, added: “The ATI is a fundamental part of keeping the UK at the forefront of aerospace innovation and technology. It has remained a strong and unifying force for the aerospace sector that has strengthened the UK’s offer. The ATI’s role in supporting our work to develop more sustainable aviation solutions has been particularly significant. This includes the development of our UltraFan demonstrator engine, confirmation of the compatibility of 100% sustainable aviation fuels with our current in-production engines, and ground-breaking research into hydrogen-capable aerospace technologies.”

The aerospace sector has dealt with multiple global challenges in the 10 years the ATI has been in existence, such as supply-chain shocks, unprecedented increases in passenger numbers and global skills shortages. The research and innovation inspired and brought into existence by the programme has helped the UK maintain its position as a world-leader in aerospace manufacturing and, as a result, cleaner, greener, global aviation.

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