According to Airbus, the moment of hydrogen is approaching rapidly. Guillaume Foley, chief executive officer of an airplane maker, has been talked about as a fuel for the future for years, but by the end of the decade the company will manufacture hydrogen-powered commercial airliners. He said he was ready to start.

European aerospace champions are skeptical among other industry leaders about how quickly gas can affect aviation emissions, but the 2035 will be the “ for hydrogen planes to go into service. I am more and more convinced that it is a fair and realistic perspective. 

“You don’t have to change the laws of physics to deal with hydrogen. Hydrogen has three times the energy density of kerosene — [technically it] Foley told reporters at an Airbus event on sustainability in Toulouse.

Foley’s comments show Airbus’ growing confidence that it can tackle the complex engineering and safety challenges needed to make hydrogen-powered aircraft work. However, Foley warned that government and regulatory support would be needed. 

Airbus needs to have “some degree of certainty” about the regulated environment and fuel availability by 2027/28, when the company must decide whether to invest billions of dollars in its new hydrogen airplane program. Said there is. 

“this [decarbonisation] The challenge is not just for airplanes, but for getting the right fuel, the right hydrogen, at the right time, at the right place, at the right price, which aviation cannot manage on its own, “he said. 

Foley’s remarks underscore the growing urgency of the aviation industry as it strives to reach its zero-emissions goal by 2050. Before the pandemic led to many landings of the world’s aircraft fleet, aviation accounted for about 2.4% of the world’s emissions. 

Pressure to curb emissions has only accelerated since the crisis. The Toulouse Summit brought together airlines, airports and policy makers to revitalize a collaborative approach on how to reduce kerosene burns. 

Aerospace companies are working on a variety of technologies, from “sustainable aviation fuels” to batteries and hydrogen. British aeronautical engineer Rolls-Royce is currently testing all-electric planes. Many are also supporting new start-ups that promise a revolution in urban air mobility through the use of air taxis. 

Guillaume Foley, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus
Guillaume Foley © JV, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus.Raymondon 

In Toulouse, Heathrow Airport Chief Executive John Holland Kay called on airlines to induce the use of sustainable aviation fuel and told the audience: jobs. The faster the scale-up of sustainable aviation fuel, the faster the decarbonization of aviation. “

Airbus, along with its peers, agrees that there is no “silver bullet” and that a variety of solutions will be needed to address the decarbonization challenge. We are also working on various technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel. 

However, there are still differences in the rate at which the industry produces hydrogen, and Airbus’ enthusiasm is not shared by everyone. 

“At Airbus, we decided to catch the bull with its horns,” Foley said. “I’ve seen engine makers change their view of hydrogen significantly. This is very positive.”

European airplane maker engineers are working on several different Zero emission concept, All of these rely on hydrogen as their primary power source. 

Fine-tuned aviation sector emissions

The number of technical challenges is large. Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technology Officer, said the need to liquefy hydrogen and store it at minus 253 degrees Celsius is a clear hurdle. The special double-skin tank required to hold the material is four times the size of a traditional fuel storage and must be housed in the aircraft’s airframe.

Even if the technical hurdles can be overcome, the investment required to build a supply of “green” hydrogen from renewable energy and change the storage requirements of airports and related infrastructure will be enormous. Following the pandemic, European governments, especially France and Germany, have invested heavily to support the decarbonization of the industry, including the use of hydrogen. 

Airbus states that it is likely to initially produce regional or short-range aircraft. 

According to the Air Transport Action Group, critics point out that the very large dents in the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions only result from efforts in the most polluted segments of aviation. 73% of carbon dioxide emissions come from medium and long haul flights. 

Alan Epstein, a former industry executive and professor of aviation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that sustainable aviation fuel is the only “practical solution” to greening commercial aviation.

Air emissions are projected to increase 220-290 percent between 2015 and 2050

“Not only do we want to reduce CO2, but we also want to get closer to reducing CO2 by 2050. Time needs to replace $ 1 trillion worth of airplane and airport infrastructure with technology that hasn’t matured for 10 years. The essence and the solution. One or two won’t take you there, “he said. 

“The economic feasibility of hydrogen passenger aircraft over the next 20 years will be more influenced by national policies and regulations than by technical or financial reality. It is these regulations that establish the economic foundation.” Epstein added. 

David Joffe in the UK Climate change committee, A government advisory body, is just as skeptical that hydrogen is the answer. 

“We need a faster solution,” he said, pointing out that the plane he bought today is “still in operation in 2050.”

Despite the high cost of sustainable aviation fuels today compared to traditional kerosene, the Commission said in the long run that these fuels would return from London to New York when they were rolled out on a large scale. We estimate that we will add about £ 80 to the cost of our tickets.

At Airbus rival Boeing, engineers are also working on technologies such as hydrogen and electric propulsion, but the company has revealed that it believes there is gas potential for some time. 

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said at an analyst meeting in June, “It’s not on my path. Between now and 2050, the size of the plane we’re talking about. Does not include the introduction of hydrogen-powered airplanes. “

Instead, he cited fleet renewal and sustainable aviation fuel as important immediate steps as airlines upgrade to more efficient aircraft. 

“Technology works, we know it,” he said of sustainable fuels. “The problem is cost and scale.”

As the industry emerges from the pandemic-induced crisis and airline management begins to think about growth again, one thing that is clear is that the industry needs to change. 

“Our passengers are looking forward to change,” said David Morgan, EasyJet’s Flight Operations Director. 

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