Airbus welcomes competition in hydrogen-powered aircraft

Airbus hydrogen
Airbus welcomes competition in hydrogen-powered aircraft

As it presented its results, the European aircraft manufacturer was asked about its ambitions in terms of hydrogen. And the date of 2035 was confirmed for a first aircraft. The player also expressed its delight to witness several players entering this market.

The timing was quite perfect. Just a few days after the announcement of Bertrand Piccard’s project to circumnavigate the world in a hydrogen-powered aircraft -a project in which Airbus is a partner- it was time to come back to this propulsion mode. Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO, began by commenting on the Swiss explorer’s new challenge: “Bertrand Piccard is a very inspiring person in terms of innovation and his ability to take on challenges. He will be designing his own aircraft, and Airbus will be providing him with technical support.”

A dynamic ecosystem in Toulouse

The CEO then referred to other players with hydrogen projects, most of which are based in Toulouse. “We’re delighted to see new players entering the field of hydrogen. It breaks down the ‘it will never work’ syndrome and shows that it is serious and possible to fly aircraft on hydrogen”. It is true that the local ecosystem is heavily involved, with companies such as Universal Hydrogen, Beyond Aero, Blue Spirit Aero and H3 Dynamics all working on drones and collaborating with ISAE Supaero on the *Mermoz challenge. In addition, the Occitania Region is setting up a Hydrogen Technocampus that will be of use to all these players.

Airbus: cooperating beyond aircraft

On its end, Airbus is making good progress on the subject. The Group is still assessing two technologies: the fuel cell and the hydrogen engine. The group is sticking to the date of 2035, as announced at the Roissy-Meaux Aéropôle Meetings. It is also working towards the introduction of hydrogen under agreements with airports in Sweden and Norway. “Other conditions are necessary to launch such a programme: the regulatory framework and certification, but also the entire logistics of distributing hydrogen to airports, which will have to be sufficiently mature,” stated Guillaume Faury. He then added: “for this reason, Airbus sees itself as a catalyst for decarbonisation: as much as the development of the aircraft is in our hands, we don’t have control over the other challenges.”

Another key project is that of e-fuels. In this respect, Qair is going to set up a plant in Occitania to supply Airbus. The group is also securing its supplies from the Middle East.

*The Mermoz challenge aims to cross the South Atlantic with a hydrogen-powered drone

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Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Mariem Ben Tili

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About the author

Laurent Meillaud

Laurent Meillaud

Freelance automotive journalist and consultant, author as well, focused on technologies and new trends for more than 30 years, convinced that hydrogen is one of the energies for the future.

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