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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A Study of Innovation: Accelerating the Development and Impact of Low Carbon Aviation Technology and Strategy

With passenger numbers expected to double by 2037 and aviation already generating 3% of global CO2 emissions, aircraft present a threat to UK Net Zero and other global decarbonisation commitments that must be mitigated. This research explores the utility of innovation as part of this mitigation strategy and the role of technology development within broader UK government policy for decarbonising aviation. The research examines low-carbon technology limitations and development status; policy levers; and organisational / market behaviour in order to prioritise and recommend strategy objectives, developing an optimised technology roadmap out to 2050. The research also addresses previously untested research questions on the role of Defence Aviation in catalysing low-carbon technology innovation across the wider civil market. 

The research employs multiple data sources to triangulate findings, analysing contemporary literature, aviation development case studies, and thematic insights captured from semi-structured interviews with aviation and innovation specialists. The research has shown that, despite several sophisticated innovation networks already in operation, there is still a significant role for government in facilitating technological transitions, predominantly through addressing present shortcomings in support to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and creating market conditions to incentivise technology development through linking emissions to new technology-orientated, market-based offsets. 


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.