Airbus on Monday revealed new concepts for zero emission, hydrogen powered aircraft.
This new concept family includes three different aircraft types:
A turboprop for up to 100 passengers and a range of 1,000 miles.
A turbofan aircraft with characteristics similar to today’s A320 or Boeing 737 aircraft types
A blended wing/body aircraft which Airbus claims to be revolutionary. What all three aircraft have in common is that the hydrogen tanks are located in the fuselage itself directly behind the passenger compartment, instead of the traditional place for fuel tanks in the wings.
Airbus is projecting an entry into service by 2035 for the first hydrogen powered aircraft, which the company has branded as ZEROe[mission], but expects to carry out a further five years of research into the technology before being able to reveal a more detailed timeline and launch date.
A first prototype is projected to be unveiled by 2030. The reason for three totally different concepts is based on the simple current requirement that Hydrogen hydrogen needs four times as much space to store it as traditional aviation fuel.
Glenn Llewellyn, Vice President for Zero-Emission Aircraft at Airbus said that “hydrogen propulsion wasn’t even on our radar as a viable emission-reduction technology” but has since revealed its “incredible potential” as an effective means to reduce CO2 emission in aviation. When asked whether battery-powered aircraft are still part of future programs, Llewellyn said that there is a place for battery-powered aircraft in aviation, especially as a future technology for smaller aircraft or urban air mobility options. But he went on to question their ability to power larger aircraft and said Airbus sees a much bigger potential in hydrogen.
Airbus received a huge bailout from France and Germany, and while it might eventually have reached these design markers by itself, the process has been sped up considerably, as govern meant bailouts were based on the insistence new zero or ultra low emission aircraft were developed.
Hydrogen produces only one thing when burnt: Water.