By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 06 March 2022 • 9:38
European aircraft company, Airbus, has announced that it is to test hydrogen-fuelled jet engines using modified versions of the now discontinued Airbus A380 planes. The tests are part of the company’s plan to become the manufacturer of the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035.
CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, is to partners with Airbus in using and “A380 flying test bed fitted with liquid hydrogen tanks”.
Glenn Llewellyn, Vice President for zero emission aircraft at Airbus said on the company’s YouTube channel: “Our ambition is to take this (A380) aircraft and add a stub in between the rear doors at the upper level. That stub will have on the end of it a hydrogen powered gas turbine.”
According to Llewellyn, the aim of the “flight laboratory” is to learn more about hydrogen propulsion systems in real ground and flight conditions, thus enabling Airbus to press on with its plans for a zero-emission aircraft in just over a decade.
Airbus has unveiled three hydrogen concepts, which they hope to begin testing in 2026 assuming everything goes to plan.
Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer for Airbus, said in a statement: “This is the most significant step undertaken at Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered flight since the unveiling of our ZEROe concepts back in September 2020.
“By leveraging the expertise of American and European engine manufacturers to make progress on hydrogen combustion technology, this international partnership sends a clear message that our industry is committed to making zero-emission flight a reality.”
With the global aviation industry pledging to slash emissions to half their 2005 levels by 2050, many carriers have announced that they are moving towards sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in order to help reduce the environmental impact of flying. Leading that charge is United Airlines who completed their first 100% sustainable fuel driven flight last year.
Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive for Airbus commenting on the news that Airbus is to test hydrogen-fuelled engines said: “I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen — both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft — has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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