“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen,” said Guillaume Faury, CEO.
NEW DELHI: Aviation giant Airbus on Monday revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter into service by 2035. All of these concepts are powered by hydrogen – an option that the European firm believes holds exceptional promise as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace and many other industries to meet their climate-neutral targets.
“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen. 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,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO. “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 significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
“These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035,” added Faury. “The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem. 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.”
Aviation emissions are an increasingly significant contributor to anthropogenic climate change, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said in a recent report. They cause 5 per cent of global climate forcing.
“When you consider the full flight, which includes emissions from takeoff, cruise and landing, aircraft emissions are also responsible for around 16,000 premature deaths a year from impaired air quality,” the MIT report said.
Hydrogen, on the other hand, is a clean fuel, emitting only steam.
The three concepts – all codenamed “ZEROe” include a turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles and a “blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept.
There is also a turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.
In order to tackle these challenges, airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations. Support from governments will be key to meet these ambitious objectives, Airbus said.