The aerospace corporation on Tuesday (Feb 22) confirmed its A380 plans as part of a new collaboration with CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.
Together, the parties will play a crucial role in getting the Airbus A3980, equipped with liquid hydrogen tanks, off the ground and into the skies.
It was in September 2020 when Airbus made great commitments to hydrogen, with the unveiling of three hydrogen-based concepts for what was said to be the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft
All three concepts each represent a different approach to achieving zero emission flight and rely on hydrogen as a primary power source – an option which Airbus believes holds exceptional promise as a clean aviation fuel.
Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer at Airbus, said, “This is the most significant step undertaken at Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered flight since the unveiling of our ZEROe concepts back in September 2020.
“By leveraging the expertise of American and European engine manufacturers to make progress on hydrogen combustion technology, this international partnership sends a clear message that our industry is committed to making zero-emission flight a reality.”
In addition to supplying the liquid hydrogen tanks for the demonstration, Airbus will also define the hydrogen propulsion system requirements, oversee flight testing, and provide the A380 platform to test the hydrogen combustion engine in cruise phase.
Supporting Airbus in its mission, CFM will modify the combustor, fuel system and control system of a GE Passport turbofan to run on hydrogen.
The engine will be mounted along the read fuselage of the flying testbed to allow engine emissions to be monitored separately for those of the engines powering the aircraft. CFM will carry out ground testing of this ahead of the scheduled flight.
Gaël Méheust, President and CEO of CFM, said, “Hydrogen combustion capability is one of the foundational technologies we are developing and maturing as part of the CFM RISE Programme.
“Bringing together the collective capabilities and experience of CFM, our parent companies, and Airbus, we really do have the dream team in place to successfully demonstrate a hydrogen propulsion system.”
seismic shift for aviation: Airbus sets its sights on hydrogen powering the future of aircraft
Representing approximately 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the aviation industry is in need of a disruptive change to its ‘business as usual’ if it is to meet its net zero objectives by 2050. One energy carrier emerging as a game-changing contender in the transformation of the sector is hydrogen, and Airbus is ready to be the catalyst for change.
With a 50-year track record of innovation, technological firsts and industry milestones, the designer and manufacturer of aerospace products, services and solutions to a customer base worldwide has indeed been ‘making it fly’ since the 1960s. In 1972, Airbus’ first aircraft, and the world’s first wide-body twin-aisle commercial aircraft, the A300B, performed its maiden flight, which at the time signalled the first steps towards changing the face of modern aviation. And Airbus is once again set to transform flight.
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