On 8 November, a glider from Airbus equipped with a combustion engine powered by hydrogen made a flight in Nevada (United States). This is just the beginning for Airbus UpNext’s Blue Condor project.
We only learnt about it last week, in a press release, but this flight – part of the ZEROe project – was a success. The Airbus subsidiary in charge of innovation modified an Arcus-J glider for the occasion, working with the German company Aero Design Works. The aim of the Blue Condor programme is to compare the emissions of a small hydrogen-combustion engine with that of a similar-sized kerosene engine, by flying two gliders at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
On this first flight, the glider flew for 30 minutes at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Two further flights have taken place since, performing tests including an engine start at 10,000 feet.
Ad-Venta is involved in this project. Thanks to its test bench (which goes up to 1,000 bars), the SME based in France was able to qualify all the ground equipment for Airbus UpNext before making the first flight. It also supplied a valve on the tank containing hydrogen stored at 700 bars. Ad-Venta points out that its involvement in the Blue Condor project covers the architecture, the supply of storage components and their validation, as well as safety aspects and ground tests.
Airbus will now study hydrogen contrails
The next step is to fly the glider early next year, in order to study any traces of condensation. In its press release, Airbus says that hydrogen contrails don’t contain soot or sulphur oxides, but do hold nitrous oxides and a lot of water vapour (up to 2.5 times more than kerosene contrails). This is why the Airbus UpNext team will be taking advantage of the winter in Nevada to carry out these measurements.
Do you want to learn more about Airbus’ hydrogen engine? Then our latest article on the subject should interest you. You can read it here.
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King