Imperial War Museum and Cambridge University search for aviation tech development partner

Plans to build an advanced-technology aviation innovation cluster focusing on low and zero carbon technologies in Cambridgeshire, UK have been unveiled.

Landowners Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Gonville & Caius College today announced plans to develop a 45,000 square meter advanced air mobility (AAM) cluster at the Duxford air base which they said would be the first of its kind in the UK.

An image of Faradair’s bioelectric hybrid plane which is currently being developed at Duxford Airfield. Image: Faradair

The partners plan to publish a tender for a development partner for Duxford AvTech next week which they said will become the UK’s new home for the research and development, prototype testing, certification and manufacture of new low and zero carbon aircraft technology.

This will include the development of electric, hydrogen and hybrid powered aircraft, alternative power sources, new materials, and associated technologies and services to shape the next generation of air transport.

The focus will be on small, short distance transport for cargo, as well as small passenger transport aircraft and non-commercial passenger transport.

In 2020, UK aviation tech company Faradair relocated to Duxford airfield. The company is developing an 18-seat hybrid electric aircraft which it hopes will be carbon neutral.

The new cluster will be located close to the University of Cambridge’s Whittle Laboratory, a disruptive innovation laboratory designed to operate at the boundary of new science and emerging technologies in zero carbon aviation and expected to open in early 2026.

Professor Rob Miller, a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and Director of the Whittle Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, said, “Achieving an aviation sector with no climate impact is one of society’s biggest challenges. Solving it will require a complex combination of technology, business and policy. Duxford AvTech and its close proximity to the research taking place at the Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge offers an exceptional opportunity to bring together the best minds and skills to meet these challenges.”

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