Preparing UK airports for zero emission aircraft

The UK Government is investing in the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen-powered aircraft. As part of this we are delivering the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme in collaboration with the Department for Transport.

National Need

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.

ZEFI Year 1 to Year 2 Development

As part of 2021-2022 year of this programme, a Blueprint document was created, alongside other reports and a roadmap. The Blueprint document presented infrastructure operational concepts required for battery-electric and hydrogen operations that airports and airfield operators should consider in their planning. This phase of the programme will further prepare airports and airfields for zero emission flight by modelling suitable infrastructure options to support gaseous and liquid hydrogen-fuelled aircraft. ZEFI Year 2 builds on work carried out by FlyZero, looking at all available options for hydrogen infrastructure across a wide range of airport sizes.  

This year, our focus has been on hydrogen-powered aviation only. There are some limitations in the evidence for a clear way forward for airports and airfields. The Hydrogen Infrastructure Options for Airports Report aims to address any gaps and limitations on the understanding of the infrastructure requirements for this technology, compared to the electrical systems to charge battery-powered aircraft. In addition, there has been a clear shift in industry thinking on the potential of hydrogen to provide Zero Emission Flight, but likely limitations to the extent to which battery aircraft can decarbonise commercial air transport.

We are always happy to hear from interested parties, so if you have questions or ideas related to the ZEFI programme or how you can help us, just email us at

Cranfield Demonstration
DNV Demonstration
FSE Demonstration
FSE Liquid Hydrogen Generation Efficiency Improvement Test Report
File Type: pdfFile size: 2.2MB
Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure: Demonstration Summary Report
File Type: pdfFile size: 2.7MB

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure: Standards Action Plan

Funded by the Department for Transport, the ZEFI Standards Action Plan has been developed as an output from the ZEFI Standards Advisory Group with a shared goal of identifying the standards needed to enable zeroemission flight.

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure: Standards Action Plan
File Type: pdfFile size: 1.4MB

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure – Hydrogen Infrastructure Options for Airports 

This report examines suitable infrastructure for different sizes of airports and airfields to support gaseous and liquid hydrogen-fuelled aircraft between 2030 and 2050.

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure – Hydrogen Infrastructure Options for Airports
File Type: pdfFile size: 4.9MB
Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure – Hydrogen Infrastructure Options for Airports: Supplementary Report
File Type: pdfFile size: 12.3MB

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure – Roadmap Update

An updated roadmap to enable hydrogen-fuelled flight in the UK with a focus on aircraft and propulsion technologies, airport infrastructure and the hydrogen economy.

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure – Roadmap Update
File Type: pdfFile size: 11.1MB

Blueprint for Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure

A comprehensive 90-page blueprint to serve as a playbook for the industry – helping to understand the changes required to transform aviation and hit zero emission targets.

Blueprint for Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure
File Type: pdfFile size: 6.1MB

The Roadmap to Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure

The roadmap highlights that continued targeted acceleration of certain components is required to
support a co-ordinated introduction of universal technology for both battery electric and Hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft.

The roadmap to Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure
File Type: pdfFile size: 3.7MB

News & updates

Results found
An airport runway at sunset with several airplanes parked and one being towed by a ground vehicle.
Innovation for airport handling of hydrogen aircraft gets funding boost
Expanded innovation programme will help airports prepare for zero emission aircraft landing this decade.
An airplane is flying in a clear blue sky next to a modern, triangular-patterned building with glass panels.
Zero Emissions Flight Infrastructure Standards Gap Analysis
Airport infrastructure must rapidly evolve to enable net-zero aviation by 2050 and ensure the UK leads in zero emission aviation systems. Commercial use of hydrogen and electric aircraft is important to the UK’s goals for reaching net zero aviation by 2050. These new aircraft will increasingly be used alongside existing and sustainable aviation fuels at […]
A passenger airplane is parked at an airport gate during sunset. Ground crew and vehicles are positioned around the plane.
Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure White Paper
The Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme, led by Connected Places Catapult in collaboration with the Department for Transport, is supporting the aviation industry to prepare airports and airfields for hydrogen-powered and battery electric aircraft. This preparation work will require input from a wide range of industries, including other zero emission transport modes, and the energy sector. In this new White Paper, Connected […]
A white airplane is parked on the tarmac. There is a ground service vehicle connected by a hose to the front of the aircraft. The sky is cloudy.
Winners announced for the Zero Emission Flight programme.
We are proud to announce the 15 winning projects that will be recipients of the Department for Transport’s latest Transport Research and Innovation Grant programme – TRIG: Zero Emission Flight, which is being delivered by Connected Places Catapult. This programme is part of the wider Zero Emissions Flight Infrastructure project, which will identify the opportunities […]

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure Case Studies

Aviation Airport Size Categories. Providing an overview of the potential benefits and challenges.

Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure Case Study
File Type: pdfFile size: 1.3MB

TRIG: Zero Emission Flight case studies and impact

TRIG: Zero Emission Flight funded 15 projects who conducted critical R&D that will help to prepare UK airfields for the integration of electric and hydrogen fuelling.

TRIG- Zero Emission Flight Case Studies and Impact
File Type: pdfFile size: 2.1MB

ZEFI Demonstrations

Connected Places Catapult is proud to announce that four organisations will undertake demonstration activities to support our Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure project. These activities will showcase the UK’s technology and innovation while building our understanding of the use of hydrogen and batteries in airside environments.

The demonstrations of the use of hydrogen and greater electrification in airside environments will inform our research on adaptions needed by airports and airfields which will be published and disseminated in the coming months.

Connected Places Catapult identified the following organisations as key leaders and innovators in rendering these demonstrations possible:

The DNV logo features three horizontal stripes in light blue, green, and dark blue, with the letters "DNV" in dark blue beneath the stripes.
Logo of Filton Systems Engineering (FSE) with bold white letters on a blue background.
Logo of Cranfield University featuring a large, dark blue circular "C" enclosing the text "Cranfield University" in a sans-serif font.
Blue and gray logo featuring the text "RICARDO" in bold white letters below a stylized white "R" on a blue background.
Logo of Nebo Air featuring the company name in blue and light blue text. The letter "O" is stylized with an airplane icon inside.
ZeroAvia logo featuring a stylized airplane with a circular motif at the center, colored in shades of orange and blue. The text "ZEROAVIA" is written below in bold uppercase letters.
Logo of Nuncats, a community interest company, featuring a red paper airplane icon above the company name and tagline in black and red text.
ZeroAvia project demonstration
NEBOAir/Nuncats demonstration

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