The Heart of the South West LEP (HotSW) has appointed Frazer-Nash Consultancy to undertake a feasibility study into the potential for smart and sustainable aviation and aerospace testing and demonstration facilities within the Heart of the South West (Devon and Somerset).
The HotSW is a business-led partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and colleges, which aims to raise productivity and ensure prosperity for all through clean and inclusive growth.
Pre-Covid, the South West aerospace industry, which amongst others is home to Leonardo Helicopters, Exeter Airport, and the Met Office, was valued at over £7 billion supporting 98,000 high value jobs, and was recognised as the UK’s most capable and diverse Aerospace region.
To sustain and grow the region's aerospace industry, the HotSW wants to ensure that the sector is fit for purpose and prepared to embrace a decarbonised future.
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Supporting the decarbonisation of the aerospace and aviation sector is one of the key transformational aims of the Heart of the South West’s Build Back Better Plan, which aims to deliver clean and inclusive growth. The study being conducted by Frazer-Nash will establish the area’s strengths, and identify opportunities to help ensure that we are at the forefront of testing and demonstrating new fuels and technologies for sustainable aircraft.”
For aviation businesses within the Heart of the South West, a key challenge in the coming years will be testing new technological systems, aircraft, and airport infrastructure that are critical to realising zero-carbon emissions, and hydrogen and electric-powered flight. Testing new technologies on the ground and in flight will be essential to providing safe and reliable technologies.
Frazer-Nash will undertake a high-level feasibility study to help shape the Heart of the South West’s proposition for providing test and demonstration facilities for future flight technologies (potentially utilising drones, electric, hybrid and hydrogen electric). The study will help to understand how the sector, and key industrial partners and assets, could shape the HotSW area to be a UK leader for such a facility.
Jack Geldard, Project Manager at Frazer-Nash, said: “The LEP have appointed Frazer-Nash to assess the key activities of industrial partners and SMEs across the area. We will also look at the demand for test and demonstration facilities in the short, medium, and long-term. Our focus will be in the Heart of the South West region but we will also consider assets further afield where specific test and demonstration facilities make it attractive to do so. Our findings will be set out in a report which explores the proposition and feasibility of the Heart of the South West Future Flight Demonstration facilities, together with recommendations for implementation.”
The report will be presented to the Heart of the South West LEP’s Sustainable Aviation Programme Board for comment at the end of March.