UCL Energy Institute


New Aviation, Propulsion, Knowledge and Innovation Network

The NAPKIN project is establishing a blueprint for zero carbon aviation by modelling the introduction of low or zero emissions aircraft into regional and short-haul aviation.

Plane stationed at Heathrow Airport, London

15 November 2020

Key facts

  • Funder: BEIS
  • Project partners: Consortium led by Heathrow Airport Limited
  • Start date: 01/11/20
  • End date: 01/11/22

Funded under the Phase 2 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Future Flight Challenge, NAPKIN brings together a range of UK aviation expertise to investigate the potential of electric aircraft for UK regional flights. By looking at different aspects of air travel – including aircraft, airports, airspace, airlines, passengers and communities – NAPKIN will help accelerate the introduction of sustainable, low and zero carbon commercial aviation.

The project is led by Heathrow Airport Limited and includes a number of academic and industrial partners. Among those, Cranfield Aerospace, GKN and Rolls-Royce will develop conceptual designs for regional electric aircraft, while airport partners are using their expertise to assess the ground infrastructure implications.

UCL Energy Institute's ATS Lab will assess the extent to which new technologies are commercially and operationally feasible across the UK regional aviation network, using the unique Airline Behaviour Model developed during the ACCLAIM project.

Highlighted outputs

Plane landing at Heathrow Airport
NAPKIN project final reports released

The final reports can be downloaded from Heathrow website:

Tower at Heathrow Airport
NAPKIN project cited in Rolls-Royce announcement on new hydrogen programme

The UCL ATSlab recently carried out a study looking at the market feasibility of UK domestic hydrogen aircraft operations as part of the NAPKIN project (led by Heathrow Airport, with Rolls Royce as a partner). This work, which demonstrated the conditions under which airlines can cost-effectively operate small hydrogen aircraft, was cited by Rolls Royce in its recent announcement at Farnborough Airshow of a new hydrogen programme.


  • The study concluded that the first hydrogen fuelled flights on 19-seater aircraft could be possible by the end of this decade on subregional routes. Hydrogen-fuelled aircraft carrying between 40 and 90 passengers, flying up to 1430 nautical miles, could be deployed across the UK’s domestic route network and into Europe by 2040.

  • The UCL contributions helped the three aircraft manufacturers to better understand the market potential of net-zero carbon future aircraft technologies and the three airports the extent of hydrogen fuel infrastructure that would be required at different points in time.

  • Within the consortium, the UCL Air Transportation Systems Lab developed a model that simulated the heterogenous UK airline market, in which competing airlines adopt and operate hypothetical hydrogen aircraft within their respective flight network to the extent that these technologies lead to an increase in airline profits; the anticipated aircraft performance characteristics were provided by the three manufacturers in the consortium.

  • MaasLab carried out a consumer behaviour study that helped understanding consumer preferences for competing transport modes and for different types of disruptive aircraft technologies.