Airbus plans market-ready hydrogen aircraft by 2035
The world’s largest aircraft manufacturer Airbus has announced, despite the Covid 19 pandemic and the resulting economic restrictions, that it intends to bring climate-neutral aircraft with hydrogen engines to the market by 2035 at the latest.
André Walter , Germany boss of the Airbus civil aircraft division: “The aim is to implement green flying. And we expect a lot from hydrogen. “
For this reason, the group recently presented four research platforms for different hydrogen aircraft. In addition, Airbus is currently developing aircraft with hybrid propulsion, which should have both a fuel cell and a conventional internal combustion engine.
André Walter : “At the moment we are assuming that it will not be possible to do without combustion engines entirely, especially on medium and long-haul routes.”
The hybrid drive is necessary for large machines because, according to Airbus, a purely electric drive currently cannot deliver enough thrust to take off.
Out of the four research platforms presented by Airbus ZEROe , one aircraft with six propellers stands out in particular. In aviation history, only the long-range bomber Convair B-36 (USA) and the Messerschmitt Me 323 transporter (Germany) with such a drive concept were built in series. There is also the Antonov An-225 (Russia), which is powered by six jet engines instead of six propellers.
The Airbus concept provides that each of the so-called pods under the wings is a completely independent drive that contains all the necessary components (hydrogen tank, fuel cell, electric motor). This is intended to simplify maintenance because each pod can be removed from the wing and replaced separately.
In addition, Airbus presented the concept of a hydrogen aircraft with two modified turbofans, which is visually comparable to current commercial aircraft. The aircraft should be able to carry 120 to 200 passengers and have a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers).
The third ZEROe concept aircraft is a high-wing turboprop engine for 100 passengers with a range of 1,000 nautical miles (1,850 kilometers).
ZEROe also includes a blended wing body aircraft. It is a hybrid of a flying wing and a conventional airplane. The range is 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers). It can carry 200 passengers. This form has already been tested with the Airbus Maveric study.
Guillaume Faury , Airbus CEO: “These concepts will help us to research and develop the design of the world’s first climate-neutral, emission-free commercial aircraft that we want to put into service by 2035.”
Airbus will decide which aircraft should actually be developed for series production by 2025.
Climate-neutral flying requires “green” hydrogen
In addition to the development of hydrogen aircraft, according to Walter, the production of green hydrogen with the help of renewable energies is necessary to enable truly climate-neutral flying. In addition, the airports have to rebuild their infrastructure to enable refueling with hydrogen. Airbus is working together with governments and industrial partners on appropriate solutions.