ABOVE: The composite Swift aircraft features elliptical wings and double curvature surfaces, as well as a built-in ballistic recovery system.

Swift aircraft, manufacturers of the brand new British aerobatic light aircraft, has selected GKN Aerospace to collaborate on RAF net zero targets through the development of a hydrogen-powered training platform.

Swift Aircraft was founded in 2004 to design and build a two-seat, side-by-side fully aerobatic training aircraft. Alongside projected civilian use within the GA community and flight training school role, the Swift could also be a contender to replace the RAF’s ageing Grob Tutor training aircraft.

The company was granted a Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) loan in September 2022 to support the development of the Swift, projected to be the first British Elementary Flight Training (EFT) aircraft to fly in over four decades, and recently won a RAF contract (supported by Project MONET) to demonstrate sustainable technologies in flight.

Swift Aircraft will now collaborate with GKN Aerospace, whose innovation in hydrogen propulsion systems will be crucial in upcoming efforts “to develop design concepts for the integration of this technology for light aircraft”. GKN is already developing a scalable liquid hydrogen solution for sub-regional aircraft and will now consider a concept and development plan as to how this can be applied to a future fleet of military training aircraft.

Ross Dunn, Chief Technology Officer of GKN Aerospace, announced he was “proud to partner with Swift Aircraft and to contribute to the development of liquid hydrogen power solutions for the RAF,” adding that together with UK partners, GKN “have the opportunity to also shape the future of military aircraft by harnessing the power of hydrogen”.

The Swift is expected to make its first flight in 2024. David Stanbridge, Managing Director of Swift Aircraft, noted that “liquid hydrogen power systems for the light aviation market is a tremendous breakthrough and GKN Aerospace is the perfect partner to explore this opportunity”.