09 February, 2023

DfT Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund awards the RAeS with funding for Falcon 2

DfT Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund awards the RAeS with funding for Falcon 2
Raising the profile of Inclusive Skies of Tomorrow, through outreach

The Royal Aeronautical Society on 1 February 2023 were announced as one of 11 recipients of the ‘Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund’ by the Department of Transport (DFT) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the Falcon 2 STEM outreach programme.

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) has inspired many generations of aviation, aerospace and space enthusiasts into various careers. The RAeS aims to inspire younger generations through a variety of STEM education and outreach programmes. For many the dream to fly or undertake a career in aviation and engineering are not easy. Promoting an inclusive aviation and aerospace industry of tomorrow, raising awareness of disabilities and accessibility needs is what the RAeS most recent outreach programme Falcon 2 aims to achieve.

The Falcon 2 programme is a STEM outreach challenge for young students aged 6-19 years. The programme provides an opportunity for underrepresented groups, especially students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, to design, conceptualise and build an accessible mobile flight simulator as well as increasing disability awareness. The aim of Falcon 2 is to create a learning platform for all students to collaborate with their peers to address accessibility issues in the aviation and aerospace industry, paving a way for the future workforce to provide unique solutions to current limitations, all whilst experiencing the wonder of flight.

Nicholas Davis, RAeS Education, Skills & Diversity Manager said: "The RAeS is delighted by the announcement that the DFT and CAA will be joining Boeing as our supporters for the Falcon 2 Programme. The contributions from industry and government will allow for the delivery of a national outreach programme empowering students of all ages and abilities to experience the thrill of flight and the variety of careers in aviation through the pathways highlighted within the programme."

 Maria Laine, President of Boeing in the UK, Ireland and Nordic Regions said: “We are proud to support STEM and aviation programmes designed by the determined and creative minds at the Royal Aeronautical Society. Giving young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to experience the concept of flight is key to securing an inclusive future for the entire aerospace industry.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Innovation propels aviation and for it to face up to tomorrow’s challenges it needs an open and diverse workforce that can bring fresh ideas and ways of working.  Our Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund recipients will be key to that, inspiring the next generation into the sector and helping to build an aviation workforce fit for the future. I was pleased to chair the first ever Aviation Council last week and continue our healthy collaboration with industry, supporting it in every way we can, so it can continue to push boundaries.”

The Falcon 2 Programme

The programme is conducted in two phases:
Phase 1: Design brainstorm poster challenge and Phase 2: The Big Build

The poster challenge is open to all students aged between 6-19 years. Students are encouraged to work in small teams to showcase their ideas and concepts on what an accessible flight simulator should be focusing on one or more disabilities (hidden and visual) and accessibility needs.

The Big Build is open to students aged between 11-19 years. The build comprises of three elements:

The Bid where teams will submit a proposal for one of nine available work packages.
The Build, successful bidding teams will progress to develop and manage their work packages
The Flight Sim Camp, a weeklong residential where teams will come together to assemble and integrate the nine work packages.

Participation in this programme introduces students to STEM subjects and prospective career paths within the industry, developing and demonstrating the key skills future employers and training providers see. They learn about, innovation, disability awareness, project management, teamwork, many transferable skills and technical skills.