Airbus to test hydrogen jet engine on modified A380 superjumbo Business

Airbus plans to use an A380 superjumbo to test hydrogen jet engines in a bid to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced by passenger planes.

The European aircraft manufacturer will work with CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and the French engine manufacturer Safran, to develop an engine that can run on gas. It can be made from renewable energy sources, which significantly reduces carbon emissions.

Airbus aims to have the modified A380 in the air by 2026. The plane will retain its four conventional engines while a fifth hydrogen-fitting jet will be mounted on the rear fuselage.

The move is part of an ambitious plan by Airbus to introduce an A320-sized aircraft powered solely by hydrogen by 2035.

Sabine Klauke, chief technical officer, said the deal was “the most significant step taken by Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen flight” since the company announced its push into the fuel 18 months ago.

The difficulty of reducing an aircraft’s carbon footprint increases with its size and range.

Smaller models with limited autonomy can run on batteries. Those that can carry up to 18 passengers, manufacturers are exploring the use of fuel cells, which produce electricity from hydrogen. Demonstration aircraft exist for these two technologies.

However, for larger passenger jets that fly between cities or between continents, the challenge is much greater due to the amount of energy that must be stored.

Although hydrogen is much lighter than kerosene, it requires three to four times as much space to produce the same amount of energy.

The size of the A380 gives engineers the space needed for additional tanks, test equipment and the additional fifth engine.

Gaël Méheust, CEO of CFM, said: “Hydrogen combustion capability is one of the fundamental technologies we are developing.

Aircraft manufacturers and engine developers such as Rolls-Royce are developing greener propulsion methods for small planes first and most agree that the bigger engines present the biggest challenges.

Most will use existing jet technology with sustainable aviation fuel which can be made from plants or by synthesizing jet fuel from carbon dioxide in the air, meaning no new CO2 is created.

Last year, Boeing, Airbus’ US rival that has been more focused on fuel, signed a deal with Dutch sustainable fuel producer SkyNRG.

Airbus unveiled its ZEROe project two years ago to build a zero-emission commercial craft by 2035.

Separately, the company will resume talks with union leaders on Thursday at its factory in Broughton, Wales, where it manufactures wings for airliners in a bid to avoid a pay strike.

Airbus last week said a focus on smaller jets as well as higher helicopter sales and higher defense orders helped boost net profit to 4, 2 billion euros last year, allowing it to relaunch the payment of dividends for the first time in two years.

Airbus has asked its suppliers to prepare the production of 65 A320s per month from next summer. That goal could prove a challenge for its suppliers, which have not had the financial clout to retain skilled workers after orders dried up.

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This notice was published: 2022-02-22 17:22:55

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