Global airline leaders, including Air Canada, Air France-KLM, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Southwest Airlines Co., United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, together with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), announce the formation of the Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT)–a new non-profit organization founded to accelerate breakthroughs in emerging technologies to decarbonize aviation.
While aviation currently only contributes around 2-3% on average of global carbon dioxide emissions annually, the number could rise to 20% by 2050 if no action is taken. Aviation is a hard-to-abate sector where dramatically reducing emissions is challenging, and breakthrough innovations are required to help the sector reach net zero.
ACT will stimulate innovation in the next generation of technologies. The majority of its focus will be on critical medium-term solutions, such as synthetic fuel and direct air capture. Over time, the portfolio will expand to include more near-term solutions, such as emerging bio-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) pathways, as well as long-term solutions, such as hydrogen technologies. ACT's mission will be supported by two pillars: an Innovation Network and a Collaboration Forum.
ACT's Innovation Network will accelerate technological breakthroughs by focusing on early-stage research. ACT will use proven tools to map the vast amount of research across the ecosystem. With a clear view of the existing networks of innovations available, ACT will provide grant funding and host innovation challenges in order to stimulate new patterns of collaboration and research.
The Collaboration Forum will support the Innovation Network by identifying other ways to jointly reduce carbon emissions, such as expediting the adoption and scale-up of next generation technologies through engagement with experts and thought leaders.
In the future, ACT intends to launch an Investment Fund, in which members and other third parties may participate. The Investment Fund will provide capital to rapidly scale-up emerging technologies that have the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of air travel.
Over the course of its first year, ACT will concentrate on selecting focus areas within these technologies and setting up the Innovation Network. ACT will welcome additional airlines and participants from across the aviation sector, and more information can be found on its website. ACT will be sharing further details in the coming months.
ACT and its founding members would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in developing ACT's legal and constitutional framework.
About the Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT)
The Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT) is a non-profit coalition focused on accelerating breakthroughs in emerging technology to drive the decarbonization of the aviation sector. ACT will support the advancement of emerging technologies through two key pillars, an Innovation Network and Collaboration Forum. The Innovation Network will use proven tools to pinpoint collaboration opportunities across the ecosystem, and provide grant funding as well as utilize challenge platforms to tackle critical barriers from novel angels. The Collaboration Forum will identify other ways to expedite the adoption and scale-up of next generation technologies. ACT was founded in 2021 by leading global airlines in conjunction with The Boston Consulting Group.
Vertical Aerospace ("Vertical"), the global aerospace and technology company that is pioneering zero-emissions aviation, today announces a collaboration with Heathrow Airport to explore how Vertical's VA-X4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle could operate from Heathrow by the mid-2020s.
The agreement between Heathrow and Vertical is a significant milestone for Britain's zero-emissions aviation industry. Both parties will work closely to explore how this new technology can fit into existing operations at the airport, build understanding of the regulatory changes that would be required, maximise potential job opportunities and minimise any potential impacts on communities surrounding the airport.
With speeds of up to 200 mph, Vertical's piloted eVTOL will be able to transport four passengers in near silence from Heathrow to the City of London in 12 minutes, with zero operating emissions and at a cost similar to a taxi. This new agreement comes as interest in the future of urban air mobility is growing, with major airlines already operating at Heathrow keen to see the technology develop. Virgin Atlantic has already announced a partnership for the UK launch of an eVTOL network with Vertical and conditional pre-order options for up to 150 VA-X4s.
By working together, Vertical and Heathrow expect to help Britain maintain its leading position in sustainable aviation technologies and support moves to a low carbon economy to help meet the Government's net zero ambitions to make the UK net zero by 2050.
Vertical's top-tier global customers include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow Group, Iberojet and Marubeni Corporation. Through these relationships, Vertical believes that it has the largest conditional pre-order book in the eVTOL industry, of up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5.4bn. Vertical's eVTOL aims to be an industry leader in safety, being on track to be certified to the highest global standards and matching the safety performance of airline passenger jets.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder of Vertical, said "Vertical continues to partner with world leading organisations such as Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Bristow Group and Microsoft. This partnership is a big step forward as we try to get the UK to Net Zero by 2050. This announcement marks the start of an exciting relationship that will help make eVTOLs flying from Heathrow by the mid-2020s a reality."
Chris Annetts, Chief Strategy Officer of Heathrow, said "We are delighted to be partnering with Vertical, a global champion in emissions-free aviation. This emerging technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution on local roads, while providing passengers with a best-in-class experience on the cutting edge of modern technology. We look forward to exploring the possibilities of zero-emissions flight together."
"Today's new partnership between Vertical Aerospace and Heathrow Airport is an exciting next step on the pathway to creating the infrastructure needed to support eVTOL operations at our Heathrow hub. We look forward to working closely with both Vertical and London Heathrow to transform the first and last 100-mile journey of passengers travelling through Heathrow".
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic
About Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace is pioneering electric aviation. The company was founded in 2016 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, an established entrepreneur best known as the founder of the Ovo Group, a leading energy group and Europe's largest independent energy retailer. Over the past five years, Vertical has focused on building the most experienced and senior team in the eVTOL industry, who have over 1,700 combined years of engineering experience, and have certified and supported over 30 different civil and military aircraft and propulsion systems.
Vertical's unrivalled top-tier partner ecosystem is expected to de-risk operational execution and its pathway to certification, allow for a lean cost structure and enable production at scale. Vertical has received conditional pre-orders for a total of up to 1,350 aircraft from American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet, which includes conditional pre-order options from Virgin Atlantic and Marubeni, and in doing so, is creating multiple potential near term and actionable routes to market. In June 2021, Vertical announced a SPAC merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp (NYSE: BSN). Find out more here.
About VA-X4 eVTOL Aircraft
The four passenger, one pilot VA-X4 is projected to have speeds up to 200mph, a range over 100 miles, near silent when in flight, zero operating emissions and low cost per passenger mile. The VA-X4 is expected to open up advanced air mobility to a whole new range of passengers and transform how we travel. Find out more: www.vertical-aerospace.com
About Heathrow Airport
Heathrow is the UK's only hub airport and one of the world's top international aviation hubs. The airport is Britain's largest cargo port, helping to drive British trade growth and assisting the country in the fight against COVID-19. Heathrow's aim is to provide passengers with the best airport service in the world and is delighted to have been voted one of the world's top ten airports in the 2021 Skytrax Awards. Heathrow has been awarded the "Best Airport in Western Europe" for the sixth year, and became the only UK airport to win the COVID-19 Airport Excellence Award in recognition of the airport's efforts to keep our passengers and colleagues safe during the pandemic. Heathrow has passed the CAA's COVID-19 Security Assurance Scheme and has secured the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International.
About Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 37 years ago with innovation and customer service at its core. In 2021, Virgin Atlantic was voted Britain's only Global Five Star Airline by APEX for the fifth year running in the Official Airline Ratings as well as receiving Diamond status, the highest possible standard by APEX and Simpliflying for delivering the highest standards of cleanliness and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to keeping our customers and teams safe. Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic and its holiday business, Virgin Atlantic Holidays, employs over 5,700 people worldwide, serving 27 destinations across four continents. Sustainability remains central to the airline and in September 2019, Virgin Atlantic took delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft - helping to transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. By 2022, the airline will operate a streamlined fleet of 37 twin engine aircraft following the retirement of its 747s and A332s, and its simplified fleet will be 10% more efficient than before the Covid-19 crisis.
Alongside shareholder and Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic operates a leading transatlantic network between the UK and US with onward connections to over 200 US and international cities. On 3 February 2020, Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic received approval from the US DOT to launch an expanded trans-Atlantic joint venture, offering a comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers.
About Broadstone Acquisition Corp.
Broadstone Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: BSN) was set up by serial entrepreneurs, operators and investors, Hugh Osmond, Edward Hawkes and Marc Jonas. It was established to combine with a UK/European business with a strong management team, significant growth prospects, and the opportunity to become a market leader in its sector. Broadstone's executive team has an extensive track record in value creation. The combination of a strong internal team, a network of external resources and the experience of the management team enables us to support rapid, substantial, and lasting growth.
L3Harris Technologies was awarded an Aviation Week 2021 Program Excellence Award for work on NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
The Aviation Week Network Program Excellence awards honor aerospace and defense industry programs that create organizational success through quality processes, people development, tools and leadership. This is the first year L3Harris has competed for the award and is being recognized for the optical telescope program in the Supplier System Design and Development category. NASA designed the Roman Space Telescope to answer questions in areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics.
“Quality program management is derived from a culture that strives for excellence,This award recognizes the innovation our teams embrace, and that our trusted disruptor approach delivers for our customers.”
Christopher E. Kubasik, Vice Chair and Chief Executive Officer, L3Harris
L3Harris is responsible for key elements of the Roman Space Telescope, including the primary mirror and hardware for the Wide Field Instrument to accomplish the mission’s core science goals.
The L3Harris team earned the award for their work on the telescope by consistently delivering exceptional performance to NASA. L3Harris excelled during multiple challenges by implementing key execution strategies involving change management and risk management, while embracing and employing predictive metrics.
The Roman Space Telescope is a next-generation observatory scheduled to launch no later than May 2027. Equipped with a 2.4-meter primary mirror, it has a field view that is 200 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared instrument, capturing more of the sky with less observing time. For example, trying to find an exoplanet around a star is similar to finding a firefly near a spotlight in Los Angeles, while searching from Washington D.C.
Aviation Week Network created the Program Excellence Awards in 2004 to honor exceptional leadership and identify lessons learned and best practices that would be shared across the industry. Nominations are evaluated by teams of program management leaders from the Defense Department, academia and industry.
About L3Harris Technologies
L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains. L3Harris has approximately $18 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries.