Airbus is creating new zero emission aircraft concepts that could be in service by 2035.
Airbus has unveiled three concepts for the first zero-emission commercial aircraft that could enter service in 2035, exploring various technological avenues to lead the way in decarbonising the aviation industry, EuropaPress reports.
All three are based on hydrogen as a primary energy source, an option that Airbus considers “exceptionally promising” as a clean aviation fuel and likely to be the choice for a cleaner industry.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury has called this a “historic moment” for the commercial aviation sector and expressed his conviction that the use of hydrogen “has the potential to significantly reduce the impact of aviation on the climate”.
The first of the three concepts is a turbofan design for aircraft with 120-200 passengers and a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles. The aircraft would be capable of transcontinental operations and would be powered by a modified gas turbine engine that runs on hydrogen combustion, rather than jet fuel. The liquid hydrogen would be stored and distributed using tanks located behind the rear pressurized bulkhead.
The second is a turboprop design, for aircraft up to 100 passengers, which uses a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan, also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas turbine engines, which would allow them to travel more than 1,000 nautical miles.
The latter is a mixed-wing body design of up to 200 passengers in which the wings are fused with the main body of the aircraft and with a similar range to the concept using turbofan. The exceptionally wide fuselage allows multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, as well as for cabin configuration.
“These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and configuration of the first zero-emission, climate-neutral commercial aircraft we intend to put into service by 2035,” said Faury Faury.
Airbus points out that to meet these challenges in daily operations, airports will require major hydrogen transportation and refueling infrastructure. This will require support from governments, increasing funding for R & D and digitalization, and implementing mechanisms to encourage the use of sustainable fuels and renewal of aircraft fleets to enable airlines to retire older and less environmentally friendly aircraft sooner.
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