Cranfield University in British consortium to build advanced electric flight ecosystem



Cranfield University is part of a newly formed British aviation consortium to develop a Uk-based AAM ecosystem.

The Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium has been awarded a £9.5m grant by the UK Government’s Future Flight Challenge to develop the ecosystem that could be progressed into full commercial operations.

Cranfield will work with Vertical Aerospace, Virgin Atlantic, Atkins, Skyports, NATS, Connected Places Catapult and University of Warwick to create and test technological developments in aircraft electrification, airspace management, ground infrastructure and operational procedures.

Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge director, UK Research and Innovation, said: “Our roadmap sets out how air taxis could be in use in the UK by 2030, but a lot needs to occur for that to happen. By bringing technical developments from across the aviation industry together into one network, and undertaking early demonstration in the real world, the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium could accelerate the timescale for AAM introduction by years. This project could revolutionise travel, not just in the UK but around the world.”

The UK’s Future Flight Challenge forecasted that the introduction of AAM services will increase UK GDP by 1.8% by 2030.

Cranfield’s role will focus on vertiport infrastructure for the project, including capacity modelling and schedule management.

Professor Antonios Tsourdos, head of the Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems Centre, Cranfield University, said: “This consortium will develop and implement a brand-new transport system for the UK in the form of AAM. Cranfield’s cutting-edge expertise in aircraft electrification, airport planning and air traffic management will underpin the operations of this first-of-a-kind ecosystem, making electric flight a reality.”

The allocation of vertiport services on air and landside, including security aspects along the journey and relevant access points at downtown and suburban landing pads, will be critical to AAM. Cranfield researchers will model passenger throughput based on vertiport size and spatial organisation, aircraft size, processing times, business rules and regulatory requirements.

Dr Yan Xu, lecturer, Air Traffic Management and Communication Navigation and Surveillance in the Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems Centre at Cranfield said: “The development of an integrated scheduling service is crucial for airspace and vertiport resource management, including arrival and departure applications. It’s vital to consider operational constraints such as aircraft capabilities, and model prioritisation schemes for flights, potentially under a collaborative decision-making mechanism between airspace navigation, vertiport operators, ground handlers and land-based transport.”