article

Electric commuter flight one step closer to take-off under new challenge award

Thursday, 18 March 2021

The University of Nottingham has joined a consortium, led by Ampaire - a leader in electric aviation, to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of regional electric aviation transport.

 

The group’s 2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) programme will include demonstration flights of Ampaire’s six-seat Electric EEL aircraft, and, in a later phase, of a 19-seat Eco Otter SX, hybrid-electric upgrade of the workhorse Twin Otter commuter aircraft. These testbed aircraft will be used to develop and evaluate requirements for a fully integrated electric aviation infrastructure.

Consortium partners include Rolls-Royce Electrical, University of Nottingham, Loganair Ltd, Exeter and Devon Airports Ltd, Cornwall Airport Ltd, Heart of the Southwest Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP), and UK Power Network Services.

The University has been selected due to its extensive experience in air transportation system modelling and simulation (M&S) as well as electrification of aviation and systems integration. Nottingham will lead the M&S activities, working with airline and airport partners, to assess the impact on costs, operations and crew rostering for operating a fleet of hybrid-electric vehicles. The objective is to develop an optimised electric aviation ecosystem, including aircraft, airports, power distribution and storage.

“This project provides an opportunity to utilise our research to evaluate the effects of these revolutionary changes to air travel. The inclusion of airline and airport partners will ensure that the models and evaluations are realistic – guiding decision makers into how to best take advantage of these innovations in future.”
Dr Jason Atkin, Computational Optimisation and Learning Lab, University of Nottingham.

The team has received a share of £30m from the Future Flight Challenge for its 2ZERO proposal to demonstrate hybrid-electric aircraft on regional routes in the South West of the UK. The project is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

2ZERO takes a whole aviation systems approach to integrate hybrid-electric aircraft technology with existing airport and airline operations for rapid adoption of sustainable air travel within a new, net-zero aviation system.

The UK Government aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with electric aviation making a substantial contribution on domestic routes. One of the objectives of the 2ZERO programme is to model and simulate a point-to-point (PTP) route system for regional flights using very efficient hybrid-electric aircraft, improving regional services and providing more time- and energy-efficient travel options versus traditional hub-and-spoke systems.

“For electric aviation to become commonplace, and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases, we need to look at not only electric aircraft but the entire ecosystem to support electric aviation. That will be a key aim of the 2ZERO programme,” said Susan Ying, Ampaire Senior Vice President for Global Partnerships.

“We are excited to be involved in Project 2ZERO, which demonstrates our commitment to supporting the decarbonisation of aviation and in reaching net zero carbon by 2050. Working with Ampaire and the other partners is a valuable opportunity for us to deliver a hybrid-electric propulsion system that could help to transform regional air travel in the future,” said, Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical.

The 2ZERO team believes that an effective demonstration of hybrid-electric aircraft in an integrated system, including the necessary charging and energy storage infrastructure, could catalyse a fundamental shift in regional airline operations. Emissions would be reduced by up to 70 percent with hybrid-electric aircraft and entirely with a subsequent generation of all-electric aircraft.

Successful demonstration up to 19 seats and 1 MW of power will help to shape regulations and standards which currently have gaps for these new classes of aircraft and airport operations. 2ZERO is an important step towards being part of an exciting new market, forecast by UBS to be worth $178 to $192bn globally between 2028 and 2040.

“With 2ZERO, we are ready to jump start the future of aviation with clean electric power,” said Ampaire’s Ying.

The 2ZERO programme runs from December 2020 to May 2022.

Notes to editors

About Ampaire

Ampaire is leading the charge in electric aviation. The company is on a mission to be the world’s most trusted developer of practical and compelling electric aircraft. To start, Ampaire is retrofitting existing passenger aircraft to electric power. It’s the leanest, fastest, most capital- efficient approach to making commercial electric air travel a reality. Ampaire’s vision is to make flights more accessible to more people from more airports by providing electric aircraft that are safe, clean, quiet, and less costly to operate. See more at: https://www.ampaire.com

About the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham founded an Institute for Aerospace Technology (see https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/aerospace/ ) in 2009, bringing together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines within the University. The Computational Optimisation and Learning (COL) Lab (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/col/, formerly the Automated Scheduling and Optimisation research group) has a wide variety of expertise at building real world systems, with a long history of applying their research in practice. They currently have algorithms running at both Heathrow and Geneva airports and have worked with a number of other airports and airlines, modelling, simulating and optimising challenges. This includes building models for the different sub-challenges considered in the project. The key to success is the integration of these into a whole aviation system and the adaptation to the changes required for increasing numbers of smaller electric aircraft.

The Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group (PEMC), one of the largest in its field worldwide, will contribute its considerable expertise in hybrid-electric systems and power unit integration.

About the Future Flight Challenge

The Future Flight Challenge is a £300m programme that will assure the UK’s position in the third aviation revolution. Using new classes of electric/hydrogen and autonomous vehicles the challenge will transform how we connect people, deliver goods and provide services. It will inspire and accelerate the next generation of sustainable aviation to position the UK as a world leader in aviation products and markets worth over $675bn to 2050.

By creating a new community from across the diverse aviation industry, the Future Flight Challenge is encouraging different businesses to work together and combine their resources and knowledge. This approach lets parties (including new entrants, established global players, academia, regulators and beyond) to jointly develop new aviation system concepts and work across sectors to ensure early involvement with new technologies.

About UK Research and Innovation

UKRI works with the government to invest over £7 billion a year in research and innovation by partnering with academia and industry to make the impossible, possible. Through the UK’s nine leading academic and industrial funding councils, we create knowledge with impact. For more information visit www.ukri.org

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund:

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. The fund provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next 4 years. It is designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Jason Atkin on jason.atkin@nottingham.ac.uk or Emma Lowry on emma.lowry@nottingham.ac.uk or 0115 84 67156.

Emma Lowry - Media Relations Manager Engineering
Email: emma.lowry@nottingham.ac.uk
Phone: 0115 846 7156
Location: University Park

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email  pressoffice@nottingham.ac.uk or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. The University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its status as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

More news…

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
C Floor, Pope Building (Room C4)
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798
email: pressoffice@nottingham.ac.uk