Swift Aircraft, the company behind the new British aerobatic light aircraft, the Swift, has been awarded a two-year contract, Project MONET, by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to demonstrate technologies that can deliver net zero emissions in flight.

The Swift, a new generation aircraft for the 21st Century, provides a test bed for the project. Digitally designed from the outset to use a variety of power plants, the aircraft is able to demonstrate measurable real-world performance characteristics with its chosen green power sources.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has already taken significant steps towards building a sustainable aviation future, and Project MONET will extend this by researching a range of sustainable aviation technologies and developing these for the future. As part of the RAF’s net zero 2040 programme, the challenge of Project MONET is to inform the development of a net zero aircraft fleet with the equivalent performance and endurance of the RAF’s existing Tutor training aircraft. The Tutor currently supports the training of front-line aircrew, university Air Squadron Cadets and RAF Air Cadets air experience flight. To deliver this, Swift Aircraft has plotted a spiral development path that will demonstrate the aircraft capabilities of the Swift and follow this with the transition to a sustainable power system.

Swift Aircraft’s intention from the outset has been to produce a sustainable British aircraft that could lead the way across the globe in military and commercial aviation. This has always been at the forefront of the design process, and project MONET is complementary to this goal. The company is already aware that battery technology alone may not be adequate to meet the RAF’s operational requirements and will therefore be including two alternative options in its Research and Development programme. Keen to show the UK as leaders in this arena, two British-based partners have joined Swift Aircraft on the journey - details of the technology and partners will be released in the near future.

Dave Stanbridge, MD of Swift Aircraft, said “I want to be clear that it will be a number of years before all the technology pieces, including supporting infrastructure, will be developed to an appropriate technology readiness level, however, it is imperative that we start this technological journey now.”

While developing the new aircraft for flight, Swift Aircraft will initially conduct design installation studies and evaluate the operational, logistic and environmental impact of the aircraft and energy systems alongside the RAF.

The Swift aircraft programme is already well underway. To support its development, Swift Aircraft was granted a DASA Innovation Loan in September 2022. The aircraft has the potential be the first British Elementary Flight Training (EFT) aircraft to fly in over four decades. Project MONET will run in parallel with this. First flight under DASA funding is planned for later this year followed by a Project MONET airframe flying in 2024. Certification for the military and civilian market is expected by 2026.