Thursday 2 July 2020 12:23 pm

UK aims to build world's first transatlantic net zero plane

The UK will aim to be the first country to build a net zero emissions commercial airliner capable of crossing the Atlantic, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today.

Speaking in the House of Commons this morning, Shapps said that the country had set up the so-called “Jet Zero” council specifically with that goal in mind.

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“That will involve not just investment in sustainable aviation fuels, of which money has already been invested but also work on electric planes, hybrid planes and hydrogen planes as well,” he said. “You can expect to be hearing a lot more.”

On Tuesday prime minister Boris Johnson raised a few eyebrows when he highlighted the scheme in his speech on the recovery of the UK economy post-coronavirus.

Speaking in Dudley, Johnson said that the UK should aim to be a “science superpower”, adding that creating the world’s first long-haul zero emissions plane should be part of its 2050 net zero target.

The “Jet Zero” council, which has been charged with making such flights possible “within a generation”, comprises ministers, businesses, trade bodies and environmental groups.

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Although a list of participating businesses is yet to be announced, £500,000 has been awarded to renewable fuel maker Velocys, which turns household waste into jet fuel.

European aerospace giant Airbus is one of several companies who have said that they will aim to make the next generation of aircraft much cleaner by environmental standards.

Aviation trade body ADS boss Paul Everitt called on more funding to make the plan a reality.

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“Now the government needs to extend funding of the Aerospace Technology Institute out to 2036 to enable us to deliver the goal and make the UK a world leader in hybrid and electric aircraft”, he said.

“Alongside boosting investment in aerospace innovation, government should establish a long-term investment fund for our supply chains, use procurement opportunities to maximise prosperity from defence and space projects, provide targeted resources for the UK’s security and resilience sector and ensure direct support to safeguard jobs and skills.”