Airbus, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aircraft have announced plans for a fleet of hydrogen-powered planes that could join commercial aviation fleets in the next fifteen years.
Airbus has released three hydrogen-powered aircraft design concepts, stating that the company is determined to find a zero-emissions design to ensure long distance travel without pollution or the need for fossil fuels.
The company unveiled three of its ZEROe concepts, stating its clear intention to become the marker of the “world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft.”
The first of which, a wide body commercial aircraft similar in design to its A330 model, is said to have a 3220-kilometer range, and transport up to 200 passengers thanks to its gas turbines. The smaller turboprop design would accommodate around 100 passengers with a range of 1,500-kilometers.
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The third and final “blended-wing body” concept is said to accommodate up to 200 passengers, in a body that merges both wings into the main body. Airbus says this design “opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage, distribution and cabin layout.”
Airbus has stated, however, that passengers in the UK would be able to travel from London’s Heathrow airport to Eastern Europe, Athens or the Canary Islands aboard its wide body jet, with the only emissions released from the engine being water vapour.
Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive of Airbus has said that the company’s plans represented a “historic moment for the commercial aviation sector,” and perhaps the “most important transition this industry has ever seen.”
“The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source of these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem,” Faury added, stating that “together with the support from government and industrial partners, we can rise up to this challenge to scale up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.”
“The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight,” Faury said, adding that “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 reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
In 2002, Airbus took part in an experiment known as the Cryoplane project, which was designed as a proof of concept for liquid hydrogen-powered flight.