Heathrow has started research for two projects that aim to reduce emissions, cut costs and make the airport more efficient.

The projects can get off the ground thanks to funding from the government’s Future Flight Challenge, which is investing up to £125 million to develop greener ways to fly – such as all-electric aircraft and deliveries by drone. The investment is matched by £175 million from industry.

The two successful projects being researched by Heathrow are Fly2Plan – looking at how technology can use the airport’s data more efficiently – and Project NAPKIN, which will develop a ‘blueprint’ for zero carbon aviation across the UK.

Fly2Plan looks at technology such as cloud infrastructure and blockchain which could cut costs and allow autonomous drone operators to maximise their use of UK airspace.

Project NAPKIN stands for New Aviation Propulsion Knowledge and Innovation Network, which looks to boost domestic connectivity and position the UK as a “world leader in sustainable aviation”.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said: “Heathrow has always served as a testbed for ground-breaking green technologies. These concepts go further than ever before, with the potential to transform the role that aviation plays in Britain’s economy.”

Business minister Paul Scully added: “We’re investing in ambitious projects, like Heathrow’s development of a blueprint for zero-carbon regional air travel, to ensure the aviation industry is championing the latest cutting-edge technology.

“Pioneering research supported by government funding will help the UK build back greener from the pandemic, remain at the forefront of aerospace research and development, and demonstrate global leadership in the next aviation revolution.”