Fundamental infrastructure changes are required to support the introduction of zero emission aircraft to meet the target of reaching net zero by 2050. The Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and led by the Connected Places Catapult, seeks to support the UK Government’s commitment to net zero by 2050 under the Ten Point Plan through facilitating Zero Emission Flight (ZEF) implementation in UK aviation.
The aviation industry could account for 39% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, making clear the need for an accelerated transition to zero-carbon fuels. The New Aviation Propulsion Knowledge and Innovation Network (NAPKIN), a consortium including Heathrow Airport, Rolls Royce, GKN and others – has projected that the entire UK regional fleet can be replaced with safe, certified, zero-carbon emission aircraft by 2040. The first hydrogen-fuelled service is expected to be operational in the UK as early as 2024. However, airports must have the necessary infrastructure to ensure the uptake of these aircraft, supported by sufficient zero emission fuel production capacity and regulatory frameworks. FlyZero suggested that slow progress towards Net Zero aviation could lead to restrictive measures to aviation, impacting the UK economy and moving us no closer to net zero targets.