Airbus reveals concepts of new hydrogen-powered zero-emission aircraft, could enter service by 2035

By: |
September 21, 2020 11:41 PM

"The three concepts - all codenamed "ZEROe" - for a first climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft include a turbofan design (with capacity of 120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles," said a press release by the aircraft manufacturer.

In India, airlines like IndiGo, GoAir, Vistara and Air India have the Airbus aircraft in their fleet. (Courtesy: Reuters/File Photo)

Airbus on Monday revealed concepts of new hydrogen-powered zero-emission commercial aircraft that could enter service by 2035.

“The three concepts – all codenamed “ZEROe” – for a first climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft include a turbofan design (with capacity of 120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles,” said a press release by the aircraft manufacturer.

The turbofan design would be capable of operating trans-continentally and would be powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion, it stated.

At a press briefing, Remi Maillard, President and Managing Director for Airbus India and South Asia, told reporters, “We believe that hydrogen will increasingly become more cost-competitive in the future, because other industries, and not just aviation, will move towards hydrogen power sources.”

The second concept is a turboprop design that can carry up to 100 passengers and is powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, the release stated.

The turboprop design would be capable of travelling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips, it mentioned.

Maillard said, “Obviously, many challenges remain, namely the availability of hydrogen, decarbonisation of the production of hydrogen, and the airworthiness certification of a hydrogen powered aircraft.”

He said airports, for instance, will require significant hydrogen transport and refuelling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations.

“We will need to convert our oil and gas network as well to make them suitable for hydrogen,” Malliard said.

“So, it is the beginning of a journey and we are committed to this ambition,” he said.

The third concept is a “blended-wing body” design, which can carry up to 200 passengers. In this design, the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft. It will be able to operate trans-continentally, the release stated.

These three concepts for the “world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft” could enter service by 2035, it stated.

“All of these concepts rely on hydrogen as a primary power source – an option which Airbus believes holds exceptional promise as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace and many other industries to meet their climate-neutral targets,” said the release.

Global aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines across the world are operating a limited number of flights with reduced occupancy rate.

In India, airlines like IndiGo, GoAir, Vistara and Air India have the Airbus aircraft in their fleet.

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