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How KTN is helping to shape the future of flight

Posted on 02/11/2018

By Michelle Carter, Interim Head of Transport, KTN

The Future of Mobility is one of four Grand Challenges identified by UK Government in their Industrial Strategy with the ambition for the UK to be a world leader in shaping the future of mobility.

Driven by innovation in engineering, technology and business models, the way we move people and goods around is transforming with ‘mobility as a service’ challenging our assumptions on how we travel.

Aviation and aerospace add >£22 billion to the UK economy every year and in 2016, 268 million passengers passed through UK airports, an increase of 50% since 2000.  Air freight is a critical business with 2.4 million tonnes of freight transported by air each year with a value of £3 billion.

It is a growing industry, but what will the future of flight look like and what can aviation offer to a future mobility strategy?  The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) was commissioned on behalf of Innovate UK to explore those questions and undertake research to understand how UK businesses can help transform the ways we move people and goods by air.

The research involved:

  • exploring how UK airports are working to deliver change and defining factors dictating passenger flight choices
  • gathering consumer data to understand journey ‘pain points’
  • understanding business innovation opportunities and the barriers to implementing them

The consumer research conducted by DJS Research in collaboration with KTN provided useful insight into passenger ‘pain-points’ along their journey starting with booking travel.  The figure below highlights our biggest gripes and that, perhaps unsurprisingly, we are more satisfied as a passenger if we travel by first or business class.

Potential pain points at each stage of a journey by plane

Travelling to and from the airport can be a challenge for the passenger but it is also a challenge for airports.  Airports call this ‘surface access’ and many have published surface access strategies to demonstrate to passengers and government their strategy to reduce congestion, improve efficiencies and reduce emissions.  Through a commissioned piece of work by Esemplasis, KTN examined 16 airports of various sizes and from across the UK.

Airports are businesses: car parks and terminal retail represent two important revenue streams.  The challenge for airports is to demonstrate they are working towards supporting modal or behavioural shifts by offering public transport options or vehicle charging points whilst generating an income.

The final piece of work involved a series of stakeholder workshops and a process of consultation to understand the innovation opportunities, the requirements for implementation (e.g. infrastructure, finance, policy) and the barriers to implementing the identified opportunity (e.g. finance, public perception).  Businesses and researchers from across the UK inputted into the consultation offering constructive insight into potential opportunities along the passenger journey, from booking travel through to arrival at final destination.

The outputs from the consultation have been collated into one Sharpcloud story so it can be accessed by anyone and includes the two reports on consumer research and surface access.

You can see the whole story on the future of flight here.

Preview of Sharpcloud story pages