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We are pleased to announce the establishment of the Future Flight Community Integration Group, a collaborative initiative driven by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) future flight challenge.

Bringing together representatives from diverse communities, industry and government, this group will foster a comprehensive and inclusive approach in shaping the integration of future aviation technology into our society.

Future flight technologies, such as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and drones, have the potential to transform how we connect people, transport goods, and deliver services in urban, rural, and remote areas. But in order to realise these opportunities, the future flight community must work closely with the people and places these services will support.

Taskforce to address complexities

The Future Flight Community Integration Group has been established as a taskforce to address the complexities associated with the integration of drone and AAM services across the UK. It aims to:

  • bring publics, local authorities, industry, and government together to tackle complexities related to the operational space from ground to air impacted by AAM and drone operations
  • act as a conduit to understand legitimate community concerns, enabling industry to better design services that bring substantial social and economic benefits
  • showcase positive opportunities with future flight services for society
  • set benchmarks and inform best practice in mitigating disbenefits
  • inform regulations, planning, and policy decisions at a local and national level

Facilitating continuous improvement

The group will achieve these objectives by:

  • demonstrating measurable social benefits from AAM and drone operations across a range of different communities, regions, and use cases
  • proposing and informing frameworks to enable localised design, adoption, and integration of drone and AAM services across distributed aviation networks
  • providing opportunities for networking, forums for training, and access to educational resources
  • facilitating continuous improvement of AAM and drone services as they roll out across the UK

Working group members

The Future Flight Community Integration Group comprises a diverse range of members, including representatives from central and local government, industry, academia, end users, and an accessibility charity.

Following an expression of interest process conducted by UKRI, the following organisations have been appointed to the Community Integration Group:

  • Kerissa Khan, UKRI Future Flight Challenge (chair)
  • Steve Close, Connected Places Catapult (secretariat)
  • Adrian Smith, Southend City Council
  • Aleks Kowalski, ARPAS-UK
  • Andrew Edmunds, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Andy Wood, East Devon District Council
  • Ben Lippitt, Civil Aviation Authority
  • Brad Miller, Ferrovial Vertiports
  • Brian Davey, Joby Aviation
  • Corrine Matthews, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • David Holden, Highlands and Islands Airports
  • Elizabeth Chau, NATS
  • Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker, University of Birmingham
  • Furqan, GKN Aerospace
  • Mike Miller-Smith, Aerobility
  • Dr Nigel Rees, Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Pierre Sohier, Heathrow Airport
  • Sam Li, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Sofia Stayte, Department for Transport
  • Stewart Gibson, Search and Rescue Aerial Association (Scotland)
  • Sunil Budhdeo, Coventry City Council
  • Suzanne Graham, The Scottish Government
  • Tim Murrell, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Will Nathan, Vertical Aerospace
  • Zhanine Smith, Essex County Council

Members will draw on their own organisations and networks to bring input from others and ensure diverse voices are heard. The Future Flight Community Integration Group will facilitate the exchange of ideas, foster partnerships, and encourage collaborative initiatives that drive innovation and progress in this transformative sector.

Serving people and places with future flight

Kerissa Khan, Innovation Lead for UKRI’s future flight challenge and co-chair of the Community Integration Group, said:

The future of aviation is at a pivotal point. Advanced air mobility and drones are transforming the aviation sector, unlocking opportunities to better serve people and places with future flight.

To secure the socio-economic benefits, we need to trailblaze pragmatic pathways to seamlessly integrate these new technologies and services into society. The variety of complexities we must tackle demands a collaborative approach drawing insights from across industry, government, and many different communities.

I am pleased to launch the Future Flight Community Integration Group and am looking forward to bringing together diverse expertise, providing a forum for knowledge sharing and working together with a shared ambition to make future flight a reality across the UK.

How to get involved

Anyone involved in future flight or enabling technologies and services is encouraged to sign up to the Innovate UK KTN Future Flight landscape map, which provides insight and connections across the UK’s future flight community.

Individuals can also join the Future Flight LinkedIn group to stay informed of developments and share with the community best practice, challenges, and achievements in the drone and advanced air mobility sectors.

Further information

About the future flight challenge

The future flight challenge is a UKRI programme, delivered with support from Innovate UK KTN, that works with industry, academia, government, and regulators to transform how we connect people, deliver goods, and provide services.

It supports the creation of the aviation ecosystem needed to speed up the introduction of electric sub-regional aircraft, advanced air mobility vehicles, and drones in the UK.

The future flight programme is funded by £125 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, matched by up to £175 million from industry.

Find out more about UKRI’s future flight challenge.

Top image: Credit: gradyreese, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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