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Project HEART: phase three

Consortium Mission

Project HEART will revolutionise the operation of regional aircraft networks, initially targeting the nine to 19 passenger market, with innovations in fuel, propulsion, autonomy, connectivity and operational models and conducting flight trials with automated specialised operations aircraft powered by zero-carbon hydrogen electric systems. Project HEART will provide a holistic operational, infrastructure and technology model that is commercially viable, subsidy-free and environmentally friendly.

Consortium Details

HEART (Hydrogen- Electric and Automated Regional Transportation) is a programme that will demonstrate a viable regional transport network that is zero carbon, affordable, scalable and safe. It is aimed at sub-regional aviation (typically using 9-19 passenger aircraft, with circa 100 licensed airfields around the UK) with an objective to enable a commercially viable, innovative and eco-friendly network that provides a passenger experience giving door-to-door travel options, improved convenience, flexibility and travel information along with visibility of carbon footprint.

The HEART programme will create a compound demonstration and vision of a 'Day-in-the-life' of a deployed network, culminating in flight trials utilising aircraft with hydrogen-electric powertrain, autonomous pilot control and support systems, as well as other key technologies that better account for the needs of travellers and support them throughout their journey.

The HEART programme will address the following key areas:

  • Aircraft with hydrogen fuel cell and electric powertrains and on-board automation in order to significantly reduce cost of operations and help improve operational reliability.
  • Implementation of green hydrogen infrastructure (production storage and refuelling) with consideration of transport and distribution solutions, along with developing a skilled workforce to operate and maintain the infrastructure and aircraft.
  • Use of aircraft control automation, including pilot assistance pilot during high workload; enabling higher operational safety and scalability.
  • Use of hybrid connectivity solutions to assist in datalink operation, mission critical communication, as well as providing in-cabin passenger services.
  • Integration of the HEART network with other transportation modes through mobility-as-a-services solutions to enable fast transfers across new and legacy transport modes. Dynamic in-journey support to simplify and smooth the travel experience.
  • Use of autonomous ground systems to 'guide' aircraft, automate baggage and cargo loading/unloading and handle refuelling operations, increasing operational safety, reducing operating costs and enabling scale-up of operations.
  • New, low-cost, modular and scalable airport terminal technology concepts brought to life through simulation, modelling and technical demonstrations to demonstrate enhanced passenger experience.
  • Understanding and addressing societal concerns such as safety of hydrogen-electric powertrains, dependence on new levels of automation and technologies.

These facets of demonstration, simulation and analysis will be brought together in a compound narrative called the 'HEART Mosaic' to show the full 'Day in the Life' picture of the network operation, which will be published through various media and engagement methods to show the journey HEART has taken, and how it will develop to serve people in the future.

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