in Aerospace

ATI appoints Chris Gear as Project Director for FlyZero

Posted 29 October 2020

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) today confirmed the appointment of Chris Gear as Project Director for FlyZero.

Image courtesy of The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) 

Led by the ATI and backed by the UK Government, FlyZero is a strategic research project designed to secure a lead for the UK in future zero-carbon emission air travel.

The £15m project will pull together expertise from across the UK supply chain and universities in an initial 12-month programme to look at the design challenges and market opportunity of potential aircraft concepts. The FlyZero vision is for the UK to realise zero-carbon emission commercial flight by the end of the decade. 

Chris Gear has a wealth of experience in the aerospace industry, having led major strategic projects, including in the areas of disruptive and novel technologies. He was Chief Technology Officer for GKN Aerospace from 2014 to 2019, which included running the Global Technology Department for the engineering group. Prior to that, as Vice President & Chief Engineer of GKN Aerospace, Chris led the engineering and technology team with a £20m budget and 500 engineers globally. 

Chris began his career as a Graduate Apprentice with Dowty Group Services, before taking on engineering and management roles within the industry. His experience covers many facets of the FlyZero programme, from design and research to manufacturing process development, operational costs, product strategies and airworthiness. He graduated from Cranfield Institute of Technology with an MSc in Aircraft Design and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Visiting Professor for Bath University with the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Gary Elliott, Chief Executive of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said: “The selection panel for the Project Director role were impressed with Chris’s track record of achievement and leadership, and for the connections that he has built across the sector. He was the standout candidate in a very strong and credible pool of applicants. Chris is well aligned with the vision for FlyZero and has shown a strong understanding of the critical path the project must take to deliver the future of zero-carbon emission aviation, along with the potential for follow on moon-shots as consistent with the ambitions of the Jet Zero Council”.

Commenting on his appointment, Chris Gear, said:“I am delighted to be joining FlyZero as Project Director and look forward to working with Gary and the rest of the ATI team along with my colleagues in industry, academia and research institutes. I see this initiative as the next step in the UK aerospace industry, supported by Government, at developing our knowledge on what will be the next-generation aircraft with zero carbon emissions. It will be a significant challenge, with several potential technology solutions, each with their own complexities. The role of FlyZero will be to convene expertise from across the UK aerospace sector, to examine and prioritise these technologies, and to give the UK aerospace community the advantage of securing an early lead in this new era of aviation”.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Making air travel greener is central to our net zero ambition taking flight. The FlyZero study will drive forward this goal by making zero-emissions air travel a reality by the end of the decade. Chris’s advanced manufacturing expertise and extensive experience leading major aerospace projects make him an asset to the study, and I welcome him on board as he takes up this role as one of the UK’s key figures tackling climate change.”

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “It’s encouraging to see FlyZero working at pace to drive forward innovation within zero-carbon flight, and I look forward to seeing results over the coming months. Understanding the design challenges and market opportunities for sustainable travel will bring us one step closer to a greener future, and with the launch of our ground-breaking Jet Zero Council this year we will push the sector from strength to strength.”

The process for recruiting the other FlyZero roles, starting initially with department heads and other senior personnel, is now underway.

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