His Majesty The King visited the University of Cambridge today, in his first public engagement following the Coronation.

His Majesty The King greeted by Dr Paul Hodgson, Technical Lead, Aviation Impact Accelerator. Also pictured: the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Prof Rob Miller, and George Freeman MP.

His Majesty was in Cambridge to break ground on the New Whittle Laboratory, where he also met with staff and researchers, leaders from the aviation industry and senior government representatives.

The New Whittle Lab, a £58 million facility, will be the leading global centre for net zero aviation and energy. Its mission is to halve the time to develop key technologies to support a sustainable aviation industry. The New Lab will also host the Aviation Impact Accelerator.

Alongside the ground-breaking, senior figures from government and industry gathered for an international roundtable as part of an initiative led by Cambridge University and MIT. This presented insights based on global aviation systems modelling capabilities the AIA has developed.

The roundtable discussion, moderated by Dame Polly Courtice DBE LVO, DL (Founder of the Cambridge Institute for Sustinability Leadership), was attended by His Majesty The King, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero), and George Freeman MP (Minister of State in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology). Participating organisations in the roundtable included the UK Aerospace Technology Institute, the US Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, NASA, EU Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking, Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, and the Sustainable Markets Initiative and other representatives from the UK government.

As The Prince of Wales, His Majesty previously visited the Whittle Laboratory in January 2020, and March 2022, to encourage the acceleration of sustainable aviation, as well as hosting an industry roundtable in February 2020 in London with the Sustainable Markets Initiative and World Economic Forum to explore solutions for decarbonising air travel.

His Majesty The King at the groundbreaking, accompanied by the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Prof Rob Miller, and Dr Anthony Freeling.

Professor Rob Miller, Director of the Whittle Laboratory, said:

“The Lab is designed to work at the intersection of cutting-edge science and emerging engineering applications, providing fast feedback between the two, and dramatically cutting the time to deliver zero-emission technologies.”

Rob Miller

Grant Shapps, the UK Government’s Energy Security Secretary, said:

“The UK is leading a revolution in aviation, looking to new technologies to cut emissions.
“Having established the Jet Zero Council three years ago by bringing together government, industry and academia, I strongly welcome the Whittle Laboratory being at the forefront of that endeavour today.
“This will further help the best minds from the fields of energy and aviation push ever-further and faster with the latest innovations in order to solve the problem of environmentally friendly and affordable flying.”

Grant Shapps

Mark Harper, the UK Government’s Transport Secretary, said:

“Having already invested £165 million into the production of sustainable aviation fuels, this Government is determined to harness the economic benefits of flying while supporting industry and academia to create cleaner skies for the future.”

“The breaking ground of Whittle Laboratory is great news for the UK’s world-leading aviation sector, representing another step towards the UK hitting our Jet Zero goals.”

Mark Harper
His Majesty the King discussing sustainable aviation technology with Prof Rob Miller.

Peter Bennett, University of Cambridge alumnus, philanthropist and founder of the Peter Bennett Foundation, said:

“To tackle the most complex challenges, we need to take a whole systems approach, where innovative technologies can be explored within the context of the realities that may impact their roll out. Rigorous testing using models such as the Aviation Impact Accelerator expedites the process of innovation and implementation.

“We need new ways to work together at speed, which is why the Bennett Innovation Lab will bring together global experts from government, industry and academia, enabling  radical collaboration. I believe by using Cambridge’s convening power, this can make a real difference, fast.”

Peter Bennett

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, said:  

“The Whittle Laboratory and Rolls-Royce have worked together for 50 years. Over this time the partnership has delivered hundreds of technologies into Rolls-Royce products. Deep technology partnerships like this are critical if the UK is to maintain its role as a science superpower and to create high value jobs in the UK. The New Whittle Laboratory offers an exciting opportunity to raise this ambition by bringing together cutting-edge science and engineering application in one building with the aim of meeting the challenge of net zero flight by 2050.”

Grazia Vittadini

Jim Hileman, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Sustainability and Future Mobility at Boeing said:

“Boeing’s partnership with the University of Cambridge is central to the effort of making aviation carbon neutral. As well as helping us to find technology solutions, it is bringing together different companies and academic disciplines from across the sector to drive change at the system level. We are excited by the way in which the New Whittle Laboratory has been designed to break down silos, bringing together a wide range of disciplines to take on the most challenging net zero aviation problems.”

Jim Hileman

Eisaku Ito, Chief Technology Officer at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, said:

“At Mitsubishi Heavy Industries we have a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, through our Mission Net Zero initiative. But we know that we can only reach this through accelerating the pace of innovation, and scaling up the development of net zero technologies. We have benefited from a strategic research partnership with the Whittle Laboratory since the 1980s, so we are excited to see work begin on this new facility that will become an important global centre for collaboration and disruptive innovation.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Whittle Laboratory over the coming decades, and we want our engineers to think of the new Lab as their European home – a unique environment where they can participate in a culture that brings together the best global ideas, expertise, software, tools and testing facilities that can help solve the challenge of climate change.”

Eisaku Ito
Aviation Impact Accelerator team.